As youth and high school sports injuries continue to make headlines, a new study published in the Journal of Athletic Training revealed that high school athletic directors face challenges when it comes to staffing qualified athletic trainers.
Despite a best-practices recommendation from the Inter-Association Task Force for Preventing Sudden Death in Secondary School Athletics Programs that all high schools have an athletic trainer on staff, nearly two-thirds of high schools don’t have a full-time athletic trainer, and almost 30 percent have no athletic training services at all.
The study researched a random sample of schools that did not have the services of an athletic trainer. 20 full-time public high school ADs from throughout the country participated in telephone interviews led by a semi-structured questionnaire. Those interviews were then recorded and transcribed verbatim, and data were extracted based on those interviews.
The study’s authors, including lead author Stephanie Mazerolle, PhD, ATC, noted three major obstacles that ADs face. The study outlines each of these concerns in depth.
“The athletic directors who participated in the study clearly identified lack of power, budget concerns and non-budget concerns – including rural locations, misconceptions about the role of the athletic trainer and community interference – as major factors limiting their ability to hire athletic trainers in their school settings,” Mazerolle said.
After determining the barriers to hiring, the authors also made recommendations to overcome them. Having ADs advocating for athletic trainers on staff, encouraging state legislation that lays out guidelines for athletic departments, addressing misconceptions and creative budgeting were all listed as places to start.
“It is our goal that these findings are a catalyst for change,” said Mazerolle. “We hope that all high school student athletes will someday have full-time athletic trainers and receive the standard of care they deserve.”