March is National Athletic Training Month. Athletic trainers are often thought of only helping schools and sports team with on-field injuries. Read our Q&A featuring Leah Harris, PT, MPT, ATC, as she shares her athletic training background, where the industry is headed and advice for those interested in pursuing a career as an athletic trainer.
Q: How long have you been an athletic trainer and what’s your background in athletic training?
Leah Harris: I was licensed as an Athletic Trainer in 2003. I was a student Athletic Trainer for GCC and GCU working all sports.
Q: Why did you become an athletic trainer?
Leah Harris: I enjoyed playing sports in high school and wanted to continue with a profession that would keep me involved in the sporting world. I lucked out and got a spot as a student athletic trainer at GCC and was able to work under an excellent Athletic Trainer.
Q: What role does an athletic trainer play for sports teams?
Leah Harris: The Athletic Trainer is one of the most important aspects of sports. They are the first responder at practices and games and are able to assist with medical emergencies and ongoing treatment of all athletes.
Q: Where do you see the profession of athletic training going in the next 5 years?
Leah Harris: Within the next 7 years it will be required for all new Athletic Training students to obtain their Master’s degree. They are trying to be taken seriously in healthcare, where people believe they are not important, needed, or educated enough. Athletic trainers are changing the way people perceive them and putting away the mindset that they are nothing but “personal trainers.” You are also seeing more athletic trainers move away from the field and moving more clinically to work with a broader range of patients. Hopefully with a transition to Master’s program Athletic Trainers will be perceived as equals in the healthcare industry.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue athletic training as a career?
Leah Harris: Be ready to work a lot of hours! Athletic training is a tough and time extensive progression. It is a lot of schooling and requires you to be on top of your game all the time. It is a rewarding job, but be ready to work.