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California Legislation Aims to Protect the Public and Regulate Athletic Training

SOURCE: California Athletic Trainers' Association

Enough is enough says bill’s author who wants to put safety of kids and workers first

(September 13, 2019) – With an alarming rise in sports-related injuries among student athletes and active adults around the state, Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) has introduced legislation to better protect the public and regulate athletic training in California.

“Enough is enough,” he says, noting that this proposed bill is long overdue for a state known for putting people first.  “We need to stop making excuses and make the health and safety of our student athletes, active adults and hard-working employees a top priority by passing common-sense licensing regulations.” 

The proposed legislation is yet another reminder of the important role these professionals have in reducing injuries in sports spaces and work places, and underscores the need for licensure for athletic trainers, says Assemblyman Bonta.

Earlier this spring he introduced AB 1592, which would require individuals to be certified by the state Board of Certification before they can call themselves “athletic trainers,” a title given to health care professionals charged with helping people prevent, manage and rehabilitate injuries as well as keeping them healthy and active. California is the only state in the country that does not regulate the athletic training profession.

All states, with the exception of California, regulate athletic trainers through registration, certification or – the safest and strictest requirement – licensure. Most recently, West Virginia, Missouri, Colorado and Oregon have recognized the harm in simply allowing their athletic trainers to be registered, and has moved to requiring licensure for athletic trainers in 2019.

“There is an urgent and compelling need to regulate the profession of athletic training to mitigate harm to the public, the profession and employers,” he says. “California is the only state that doesn’t regulate athletic trainers and as a direct result we’re seeing too many unnecessary injuries, disabilities and even death.”

Under current state law, anyone regardless of education or certification can act as an athletic trainer diagnosing and treating serious sports and work-related injuries, including concussions, heat stroke, cardiac arrest and spinal cord conditions.

In particular, this lack of certification has both short- and long-term health implications for the tens of millions of grade school, high school and college students who participate in sports both at their local schools and throughout their communities.

“Most parents and guardians are not aware that some athletic trainers are unqualified and may be placing their children in potentially perilous situations,” says Dr. Cindy Chang, a University of California San Francisco clinical professor and past president of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine.  “Without the necessary certification, these individuals are deficient in the knowledge and implementation of health and safety best practices and policies.”

But it’s not just the sporting types who depend on health care provided by athletic trainers. According to the California Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA), more than 34 percent of athletic trainers in the state work with patients who are non-athletes, including those in the military, performing arts, industrial and corporate settings. 

Under the proposed legislation, all athletic trainers would be required to graduate from an accredited educational program and be certified before registering in the state.  These regulations would align California’s athletic training professionals with those in the other 49 states, allowing them to travel and treat athletes and workers out of state without exposure to legal and financial consequences.

The bill, sponsored by CATA, is supported by leading physician groups and other health care and sports organizations, including the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Orthopaedics Society for Sports Medicine, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHS) and dozens of other organizations.

According to CATA President Jason Bennett, AB1592 will be heard at the committee level early in 2020 and hopefully become law by 2021.

“There is broad consensus from medical organizations and medical experts, colleges and universities, professional sports teams and other grassroots organizations that regulation for athletic trainers is imperative to protect the health and safety of athletes and other California citizens,” says Bennett.  “After years of educating politicians and the public, now is the right time and AB1592 is the right legislation that will finally bring us to parity with the other 49 states.”

For more information about the assembly bill and state-wide activities being held to enhance athletic training awareness, visit https://ca-at.org.

About the California Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA)

Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the provision of physical medicine and rehabilitation services, serving as physician extenders in the prevention, assessment and treatment of acute and chronic injuries and illnesses.  The California Athletic Trainers’ Association (https://ca-at.org) represents and supports 2,600 members of the athletic training profession in the state.

 

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