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Louisiana Addressing HS Athletic Training Needs

Paul Steinbach

Three Louisiana schools — Louisiana State University, Southeastern Louisiana University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette — intend to transition their academic programs in athletic training from bachelor's degrees to master's-only programs in keeping with new national standards imposed by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association that will require a master’s degree for athletic trainers to gain national certification after 2022.

As reported by The Acadiana Advocate, the UL System Board of Supervisors will forward to the state Board of Regents for final approval a plan by UL to phase out its bachelor’s program in athletic training and replace it with a master’s program. If approved by the supervisors, final state approval may come as early as December.

The UL program would offer both thesis and non-thesis and would likely start in summer session 2021, although speedy approval might move that start date forward. Much of what the program needs for facilities and equipment is in place, according to Aimee Mattox, a UL instructor and program and clinical education coordinator for athletic training. If the master’s program is approved, master’s students, enrolled through the School of Kinesiology, would have to earn a bachelor’s in a related field of study and then earn 55 graduate credit hours in a six-semester, year-round master’s program that would last two years and require summer study. Required master’s level courses would include athletic nutrition and pharmacology, organization and administration in sports medicine and rehabilitation techniques in athletic training.

“National trends indicate that the greatest job growth for certified athletic trainers is in the high school setting,” UL said in its request for program approval, according to the Advocate. “The abundance of high schools [63] in the Acadiana area, along with the graduate degree opening the door to teaching at the secondary level, make the master of science in athletic training an attractive option for students interested in pursuing a career in secondary education as well.”

Greggory Davis, associate professor and interim director in the School of Kinesiology, told the paper that enrolling students should not pose a problem. He said enrollees from area high schools are interested in the enhanced program, and students in existing programs within the school are enrolled in courses required for entrance to the master’s program. In addition, he said, UL is the sole Louisiana campus west of the Mississippi River to offer athletic training education, so he expects undergraduates from elsewhere to show interest. In the past four years, six students from California have graduated out of the athletic trainer program.

UL's request said the Bureau of Labor Statistics envisions a 21 percent growth for the profession for the decade from 2014-2024 — an anticipated growth of 5,400 jobs. Of late, the BLS said, awareness of injuries to prep athletes has created growing demand for athletic trainers.

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