WILMINGTON — Wilmington College’s reputation as a premiere program in athletic training reached a new level of accomplishment when it earned final approval this month for expanding to the master’s level.
The College will implement a Master of Science in Athletic Training degree program starting in fall 2019 with the first graduates expected in May 2023. WC will be only the sixth institution in Ohio to host a fully accredited graduate program in athletic training.
Dr. J. Brett Massie, program director and associate professor of athletic training, said he is pleased the program possesses both the ability to elevate to the master’s level and the institution’s support to undertake such a bold move.
“These are exciting times and we’re at the forefront,” he said. “I like where we’re sitting right now. We’re well ahead of the mandate.”
Indeed, starting in 2022, bachelor’s degree programs in athletic training will become obsolete at accredited schools across the country and AT will become a graduate-level course of study. A number of Ohio schools have already dropped their undergraduate AT programs, rather than pursue the graduate level, with more attrition likely in the offing, Massie said.
This fall, WC’s freshmen interested in pursuing athletic training will enroll as exercise science majors in the accelerated, allied health concentration and, after three years, plus possibly one summer of studies, graduate into the master’s degree program. It will consist of two additional years — four semesters of courses strictly within the discipline. The earliest students can sit for the Board of Certification exam is in the final term of their master’s program.
The Commission on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education (CAATE), in partnership with the National Athletic Trainers’ Assn. and the Board of Certification, is behind this major change in AT education.
Massie cited the increasing complexity in the field as CAATE’s rationale for implementing the new standards. “Athletic trainers are health care professionals and (necessitating) graduate studies highlights the level of knowledge athletic training requires.”
The Ohio Dept. of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission approved WC’s plans for the program in 2018, en route to the College ultimately securing CAATE’s endorsement this spring.
Massie noted CAATE and the other approving entities were especially impressed with the clinical and other hands-on learning components that have been hallmarks of WC’s program for the past 40 years. They also praised its qualified faculty and staff, and supportive alumni.
In addition, they “loved the facility upgrade” that, in 2015, resulted in the Center for Sport Sciences with its state-of-the-art AT center and the fact that students can accomplish clinical rotations at the four “premiere” medical partners’ clinics located within the CSS: Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, Clinton Memorial Hospital’s imaging center, Rolf’s Chiropractic Care of Cincinnati and Drayer Physical Therapy Institute.
While attaining an approved graduate program was the overlying goal, Massie also described the comprehensive accreditation process as an important learning experience for all associated with WC’s highly regarded academic area in athletic training.
“It was a great opportunity to step back, assess and evaluate our program as a whole,” he said, noting the in-depth study affirmed the program’s quality and effectiveness in serving its students. “Athletic training fits so well with the College’s hands-on learning doctrine — who better exemplifies this than our AT students?”