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athletic training graduate program earns accreditation

Emporia State is now able to offer a graduate program in athletic training, having recently earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

“The commission recognized our program as meeting the required standards for transitioning our entry-level undergraduate program to an entry-level graduate program,” said Matt Howe, the director of ESU’s athletic training program.

Howe explained the accreditation was complex, given ESU’s undergraduate program in athletic training needed to be reaccredited, the graduate program in athletic training needed to be accredited, and the process for both involved a self-study. It also involved an on-campus visit by a team of two external reviewers who met with students, faculty, staff, preceptors and administrators as well as touring on and off-campus facilities.

The standards the program had to meet were established in conjunction with CAATE sponsors: the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

“Mr. Howe and Ms. Miller, coordinator of clinical education for the program, are to be congratulated on putting together a superior self-study that led to such high remarks from the site visit committee,” said Dr. Paul Luebbers, chair of ESU’s Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, which houses the athletic training program.

Accreditation by the CAATE is vitally important to athletic training programs, according to Howe. Only students who complete accredited programs are eligible to sit for the Board of Certification Exam, which is the nationally recognized exam providing credentialing for the entry-level athletic profession.

“When CAATE made the decision to require programs to move to a masters level, our program staff was committed to making this transition. Not all undergraduate programs in the country were able to make this change. I am quite proud of the dedication of our faculty to make this happen. It was challenging,” said Dr. Joan Brewer, dean of The Teachers College.

ESU’s Athletic Training Program was first accredited in 1999. Students in the program undergo clinical experiences on-campus in both athletic training clinics with all sports at ESU, in addition to off-site experiences in physical therapy and orthopedic clinics as well as emergency departments.

“We are very proud of our students and proud of the legacy of our program,” Howe said. “We understand the challenges that students face while maintaining their academic standing, clinical experiences and sometimes part-time jobs. When students let us know they have passed the BOC, we get excited for them as well knowing what they have been through.”

“We have had a high success rate for students passing the BOC exam in their first attempts,” Howe said. “While most of the students continue as athletic trainers, there has been a trend for some time now of students entering our program with the intent to continue their education for physical therapy, occupational therapy or medical school.”

“The athletic training education program also is a very good example of how ESU’s academic programs work closely with our collegiate athletics programs and other community partners to provide outstanding hands-on learning opportunities for our students,” Brewer said. “ESU has a long history of preparing high quality athletic trainers. I am thrilled that tradition will continue.”

“I think what makes our program stand out are the openness and honesty that we have when students first set foot on campus for an academic visit,” Howe said. “We do our very best to inform students, and most times their families, what they should expect. Our students will get earlier experiences in our program when compared to some larger schools, which we feel helps to better prepare them for future success.”