School of Health Professions to offer degree in athletic training

Athletic training is the most requested program MU does not currently offer.
Casey Purcella / Graphic Designer

The School of Health Professions will offer a degree in athletic training beginning fall 2013.

The UM System Board of Curators approved the proposal at its meeting Thursday in Kansas City. The state’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education must approve the program before it can start admitting students, said Ruth Crozier, School of Health Professions director of student affairs.

The program was created in response to student demand and a rising demand in the job market. According to the MU Office of Admissions, athletic training is the most requested degree that MU does not offer.

School of Health Professions Dean Rich Oliver said demand was coming from both current and prospective students.

“Lots of prospective students want the program, and we have to send them off to other places,” he said. “We have a cohort of students interested in sports medicine or athletic training, and many of them volunteer in the athletic department right now. They too are often disappointed that there’s not a formal degree program where they can get their athletic training credentials.”

Faculty for the program will be housed in the athletic training complex, and students will gain experience through MU athletics and various organizations around Columbia.

“Students will rotate through our athletic facilities and also do rotations in high schools and work with the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute and the Columbia Orthopaedic Group,” Oliver said. “They’ll be working with lots of community-based entities.”

Vice President of Academics Steven Graham said the program had strong support on the MU campus in a past Maneater article.

“This should increase the ability to coordinate and bring a really good program,” he said. “It’s really a well-done program. It’s fully vetted. The campus is very strong behind it.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job opportunities in the athletic training industry to grow 37 percent between 2008 and 2018. According to the program proposal, athletic trainers are increasingly being employed in hospitals, clinics, corporations, the military and other settings outside of their traditional roles on sports teams.

Oliver cited a new emphasis on preventative health care and the treatment of head injuries as main factors in the rising demand.

“There are new requirements on high schools and colleges to more proactively diagnose and monitor head injuries,” he said. “The evaluation of head injuries and determining when athletes can return to the practice field after a brain injury is a big issue in sports right now.”

The program will work closely with the existing physical therapy degree program, Oliver said.

According to the School of Health Professions, students will be admitted to the program through a competitive process. Prospective majors can be admitted as pre-athletic training students and apply to the program during their freshman year.

Forty students will be admitted to the program for each graduating class.

“I’m confident we’ll have more qualified applicants than seats,” Oliver said. “I think it’s going to be a very popular program.”

Graham said the program needs 60 students to be financially sound and projected that 120 students would participate.

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