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Understanding the Healthcare Profession of Athletic Training

Definition of Athletic Training: Athletic Trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians. The services provided by ATS comprise of prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.  MORE

Athletic trainers are well-known, recognized, qualified health care professionals ATs are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals, and are under the allied health professions category as defined by Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Athletic trainers are assigned National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers, and the taxonomy code for athletic trainers is 2255A2300X. Athletic trainers are listed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the “professional and related occupations” section. They are mid-level health care professionals.

Athletic trainers have designated CPT/UB codes The Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes are athletic training evaluation (97005) and re-evaluation (97006); these codes are part of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) CPT family of codes. The American Hospital Association established Uniform Billing (UB) codes – or revenue codes – for athletic training in 1999. The term “qualified health care professional,” as found in the CPT code book, is a generic term used to define the professional performing the service described by the code. The term “therapist” is not intended to denote any specific practice or specialty field within PMR.

State regulation of athletic trainers

  • Athletic trainers are licensed or otherwise regulated in 49 states, and the District of Columbia; efforts continue to add licensure in and California.

  • NATA has ongoing efforts to update obsolete state practice acts that do not reflect current qualifications and practice of ATs under health care reform.

  • Athletic trainers practice under the direction of physicians.

  • ATs work under different job titles (wellness/occupational health manager, rehab specialist, etc.).

  • Athletic trainers relieve widespread and future workforce shortages in primary care support and outpatient rehab professions.

  • Academic curriculum and clinical training follow the medical model. Athletic trainers must graduate from an accredited baccalaureate or master’s program; 70 percent of ATs have a master’s degree. 

Many athletic trainers work outside of athletic settings; they provide Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) and other services to people of all ages. ATs work in:

  • Physician offices as athletic trainers in a physician practice, similar to nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and other professional clinical personnel.

  • Rural and urban hospitals, hospital emergency rooms, urgent and ambulatory care centers.

  • Clinics with specialties in sports medicine, cardiac rehab, medical fitness, wellness and physical therapy.

  • Occupational health departments in commercial settings, which include manufacturing, distribution and offices to assist with ergonomics.

  • Police and fire departments and academies, municipal departments, branches of the military.

  • Public and private secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional and Olympic sports.

  • Youth leagues, municipal and independently owned youth sports facilities.

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