For most people, the month of March is a time for spring break, St. Patrick’s Day, and college basketball, but if you’re an Athletic Trainer or Athletic Training Student it is also National Athletic Training Month. National Athletic Training Month is a time for recognition and appreciation of the Athletic Training community for the time and energy spent with athletics. Every March, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, NATA, creates a theme for the month that ties into bringing awareness to the Athletic Training profession. This years theme is "Everybody needs an Athletic Trainer." The goal of the theme is to point out that not just professional and college athletes need Athletic Trainers, but everyone, including high school, middle school, youth sports, and even adults would benefit from Athletic Training.
Going along with the theme of "Everybody needs an Athletic Trainer," the concern of the lack of Athletic Trainers in the high school setting is becoming more widespread. As more individuals realize the importance of having the presence of an Athletic Trainer, the more the communities, school, local, and state officials become aware of their importance in schools. This awareness over the past 15 years has lead to the introduction of legislature in some states making Athletic Trainers more accessible and appealing, or required for high school athletics. A few of the states involved in the promotion of Athletic Training are New Jersey, California, and North Carolina.
Up until December 2001, 41 states plus the District of Columbia requires their Athletic Trainers to pass the NATA’s Board of Certification, receive a licensure, or obtain some other form of registration before practicing in their state, as a means of regulating the profession and building it’s credibility. Since then, there are only 2 of those 9 states from 2001 that did not regulate the title of Athletic Trainer and one of those, California, is in the process of trying to get legislature of the "Athletic Trainers Practice Act" to pass.
Along with the regulation of title "Athletic Trainer," states have gone one step further and require Athletic Trainers to be present for high school athletics. It started in 1998, when the American Medical Association adopted a policy recommending that all high school athletic programs hire at least part-time certified Athletic Trainers. Unfortunately this was only a recommendation, but surprisingly Hawaii and Washington, D.C. had passed their legislature requiring the presence of an Athletic Trainer at the high school level before the AMA released its recommendation. Although these are the only two that have gotten the legislature passed, there are many more states in the process of litigation. North Carolina introduced a bill in 2009, funding the hiring of licensed Athletic Trainers for every high school in the state, but it has yet to become a law. Also in 2009, New Jersey Senator, Paul A. Sarlo, presented a bill to the Senate, that would require New Jersey high school with an athletic department to have an Athletic Trainer on staff. There are many other states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, that are waiting for bill to become law.
So as the month of March slips away from us like every other month, make sure to say thanks to your Athletic Trainer and Athletic Training Students. Also take advantage of their presence in your setting because even though the theme is "Everyone needs an Athletic Trainer," not everyone has one.