Written by Carrie Bebermeyer
Saint Louis University athletic training students work in the simulation lab.
ST. LOUIS - The Journal of Athletic Training and the Athletic Training Education Journal, two scholarly, peer-reviewed publications of the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) will make their home at Saint Louis University, according to the association's president, Jim Thornton. In a nod to the University's expanding national presence, Thornton visited SLU earlier this semester to talk about the "Secondary School Student Athletes' Bill of Rights" as well as sports-related health concerns that athletic trainers are well-positioned to help solve.
The Journal of Athletic Training office at Saint Louis University will handle all editorial responsibilities for the publication and will continue to be led by managing editor, Leslie Neistadt. The 48-year-old journal is open-access and has a subscription base of more than 10,000 sports medicine professionals.
The Athletic Training Education Journal serves as an interface between the theory and practice of athletic training education by providing a forum for scholars, educators, and clinicians to share critical and significant concepts, original research, and innovative ideas. The two journals will share resources on SLU's campus.
SLU's athletic training education program, begun only five years ago, has quickly reached the ranks of a top flight program in a field that itself has gained visibility and importance in ensuring the health of athletes at all levels of play. In particular, athletic trainers are heralded as a part of the solution to sports related concussions, a grave and growing concern, especially in high impact sports like football and hockey.
"I'm extremely proud of how far our program has come, from our beginning five years ago to where we are now, with 90 students in the program," said Anthony Breitbach, Ph.D., athletic training program director at SLU.
SLU's athletic training faculty and students have served as advocates and leaders in the region, state and beyond. In its five year history, the program has hosted a sudden cardiac death conference for the region, partnered with the Brain Injury Association of Missouri to host a seminar on sports related concussions, and hosted the state meeting for athletic trainers twice. Students have been advocates, as well, lobbying in Jefferson City in support of athletic training legislation in the Missouri Senate.
Breitbach serves as a member of NATA's Executive Committee for Education, a group that has developed future guidelines for the profession. Assistant professor Kitty Newsham, Ph.D., is on the standards committee for the Board of Certification. Assistant professor Tim Howell, Ph.D., is a site visitor for CAATE, the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.
The athletic training education program, which is a part of the physical therapy and athletic training education department, is housed in the Doisy College of Health Sciences. Last year, the program established the Bauman Endowed Scholarship in Athletic Training to provide tuition support for outstanding students in the program during their final year of study.
Less than two years after admitting its first student, the entry-level master's program was accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), making it one of only 23 such accredited programs in the country.
"When CAATE made their report, they noted that SLU's athletic training education program is well positioned to see exponential enrollment growth in the near future," said Mark Reinking, Ph.D., chair of the department of physical therapy and athletic training education at SLU.
"Because the program is uniquely positioned on a medical campus within a collaborative, interprofessional environment, students have access to SLU's state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory spaces, as well as the new Chaifetz arena," Reinking said.
A 10-year forecast by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places athletic training among the top 10 jobs that are expected to grow over the next decade. Students in SLU's program participate in clinical rotations at 20 high schools, 10 colleges and in physician offices in the region.
Taking advantage of its location in the heart of a great sport city, the program has connected students with professional sports teams in St. Louis for internships. SLU recently worked with the Cardinals to establish three internships each year for SLU students.
Those types of experiences have proven invaluable for students entering the job market. For example, a recent graduate of the program received a full time job offer with the Rams after completing an internship there. Other students intern at places beyond the playing field, including organizations like Disney.
Job seekers are finding that athletic trainers are being hired in some surprising places, including the military, performing arts and industry. In addition to the strong clinical experiences students find within the program, students note that the opportunity to work at tournaments, in simulation labs, and at community events gives them a well-rounded experience.
"When our students are out in the community during their clinical rotations or internships, they become a part of that community," Breitbach said. "They are advocates and they raise the standard of care by bringing with them knowledge about the latest research and the newest techniques.
"In what can be a tough, competitive environment, athletic trainers are advocates for the players."