Saint Louis University

A master's of athletic training student and her preceptor examine an athlete's leg. Submitted photo.

Starting this fall, students enrolled in the Athletic Training master's degree program at Saint Louis University are able to complete their first two years of study at the SLU Madrid campus. Students will then return to the St. Louis campus to finish their remaining three years of study.

The Athletic Training Program is a 3+2 entry-level master's program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. Students can enter the program after high school or transfer to SLU as an undergraduate or post-baccalaureate student.

"This program offers to students a rich and exciting experience to develop language and cultural competency while being exposed to high caliber athletic health care in an international setting," said Mark Reinking, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training.

Opening this study abroad program to SLU athletic training students will provide experiences unique to the international setting. While in Madrid, students have the opportunity to learn and speak Spanish in a native environment, develop intercultural competencies and gain valuable experience with bilingual and native Spanish speaking health professionals and athletes.

Bilingual skills in Spanish and English are highly desirable in athletic training, especially in large metropolitan areas and in some athletic settings such as professional baseball.

SLU Madrid has played a crucial role in internationalizing SLU, recruiting students not only from Spain, but from all over the world. The campus is home to students from more than 60 countries. Many students are attracted to SLU Madrid because it serves as a gateway to the programs offered in St. Louis. Athletic training, with the ability to complete the first two years in Madrid, will now be one of the options distinguishing both SLU and its Madrid campus from other international universities.

"The quality and variety of the programs are what attracts international students to SLU Madrid," said Paul Vita, Ph.D., director and academic dean of the Madrid Campus. "SLU's Athletic Training program is a unique one, one not available at other universities in Spain — or Europe, for that matter."

This program with the SLU Madrid campus is modeled after the School of Nursing's successful international nursing program, which launched in 2003. The courses for the athletic training students taught in Madrid will mirror those in St. Louis and will be closely coordinated between the two campuses. Students will also be capable of completing their clinical internship course in Spain, giving them direct international experience in the field.

The Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training has also become an affiliate member in the World Federation of Athletic Training and Therapy, which Anthony Breitbach, Ph.D., director of the Athletic Training Program, says, "will provide additional support, promotion and external validation for the program."

WFATT is a coalition of national organizations of healthcare professions in the fields of sport, exercise, injury and illness prevention, and treatment. Member associations are from other countries including Canada, Spain, Italy, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, South Africa, England and Ireland.