Joint Statement from the BOC, CAATE, NATA, and NATA Foundation Presidents regarding the process for examining the professional degree.

At times during the evolution of a profession like athletic training, key decisions are required and made to help advance that profession. Recent examples in the AT profession are the change away from the internship route to certification and the study of the name of the profession.  Currently, the profession is engaged in a discussion about the professional degree being offered at the baccalaureate and post−baccalaureate level.  There has been much conversation regarding this topic, so it is the intent of the Presidents of the Strategic Alliance members (BOC, CAATE, NATA, NATA Foundation) to communicate the current process to all stakeholders during this time of examination and public comment via this joint statement.

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The NATA Executive Committee for Education (ECE) has formed a workgroup of experts, with representation from the CAATE, to examine the strengths and limitations of professional education at both the baccalaureate and post−baccalaureate level.  A significant component of this process is the development of a white paper detailing their findings that will be distributed to all stakeholders for review and comment.  Depending on a number of factors, the white paper should be released by the end of the year.  The workgroup has been charged with providing a formal recommendation regarding whether or not professional education should continue at both the baccalaureate and post−baccalaureate levels, or if it is in the best interest of our students and patients to elevate the minimum entry into the profession to the post−baccalaureate level.

At this time, no decision has been made, nor has a specific deadline for making a decision been established.  A key part of the process is providing ample opportunities for public comment at district meetings, the NATA annual convention and via electronic surveys. This process will continue, at a minimum, through July of 2014. The members of the Strategic Alliance are having frequent calls to share important feedback.

Ultimately, the responsibility for establishing educational standards, including the determination of whether or not professional education should continue at both the baccalaureate and post−baccalaureate levels, or if it should be elevated to ONLY occur at the post−baccalaureate level, lies with the CAATE. However, the Commission is committed to working collaboratively with Alliance members to consider information and input from their constituents.  Each organization is collecting information and comments from stakeholders and sharing it among the Strategic Alliance.  The NATA and the CAATE plan to have open forums at the district meetings and the NATA annual convention to present information and to gather comments.  While each organization has a different responsibility and different stakeholders, we are all interested in what is best for the profession as a whole and are committed to continued delivery of quality healthcare to the public.

Collectively, we are dedicated to working together to gather as much information and feedback as possible so that the CAATE can ensure that its decision regarding the appropriate level of professional education in athletic training is made in an informed manner based upon what is best for our students, our patients, and the profession.  Please be assured that all stakeholders will have an opportunity for public comment either in person and/or through electronic means.

Susan McGowen, PhD, ATC, President, Board of Certification (BOC

Mark Laursen, MS, ATC, President,Commission on Accreditation of AthleticTraining Education (CAATE)

Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES, President, National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA)

Robert T.”R.T.” Floyd, EdD, ATC, CSCS, President, NATA Research & Education Foundation

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