Misconceptions about Athletic Training

Photo of two athletic trainers standing back to back.
Shae is featured on the right.

My name is Shae Giovanni, and I am an affiliate athletic trainer here at Rec Well. You can find me working with students at Dejope Residence Hall, the UW Marching Band Field, or at Sport Club Events. Additionally, I am a second-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program here at UW-Madison.

Athletic trainers are allied healthcare professionals with specialized expertise in injury management and emergency care that undergo rigorous educational standards and certification. There are many misconceptions about the athletic training profession, what we do, and where we work.

One common myth is that athletic trainers are personal trainers or “trainers”. The key differences between both are in the amount of education and qualifications. Athletic trainers must obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training, at minimum, in an accredited program and sit for a board exam to become a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC). Additionally, they must be licensed in the state in which they practice. Athletic trainers are medically trained and qualified to treat patients under the direction and supervision of physicians. While athletic trainers receive training on strength and conditioning, we receive even more education in the realms of acute and chronic injury prevention, diagnosis, rehabilitation, and emergency care. We value and often collaborate with our personal training colleagues who possess credentials in the realm of physical fitness and exercise. 

Shea, an athletic trainer, standing on the sidelines of a football field.
Shae representing Rec Well at the 2021 Vegas Bowl.

Next, athletic trainers don’t just work with athletes. Athletic training is an ever-growing field and athletic trainers’ multifaceted expertise make them valuable in settings beyond athletics. The provider checking you in at your orthopedic appointment? Likely an athletic trainer. What if a line worker at Amazon threw their back out lifting your package? It’s a good thing they have an athletic trainer on staff to help. Athletic trainers work at physician offices, hospitals, physical therapy clinics, commercial settings, military bases, schools, and professional sports facilities. In the spirit of National Athletic Training Month… there’s an AT for that!