WILMINGTON — Wilmington College’s acclaimed program in athletic training will achieve a new level of accomplishment this coming fall term when it expands to the graduate level.
The College will implement a Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) degree program in response to a national commission’s requirement that, starting in 2022, AT will become a graduate course of study.
WC’s Dr. J. Brett Massie, program director and associate professor of athletic training, cited the increasing complexity in the AT field as the Commission on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education (CAATE) rationale for implementing the new, more stringent standards.
“Athletic trainers are health care professionals and necessitating graduate studies highlights the level of knowledge athletic training requires,” he said about the ever-increasing prominence of this allied health discipline, which can be viewed in action at nearly every live and televised sporting event.
Indeed, Wilmington College athletic training alumni are heading medical staffs for professional sports teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Royals, as well as working in schools, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.
WC’s inaugural cohort of students will start with the 2021 fall semester and the first MSAT graduating class is expected in May 2023. WC is among only eight institutions in Ohio to host a fully accredited graduate program in athletic training. Many institutions have shut down their entire academic AT programs in recent years as a result of the CAATE mandate.
Wilmington College offers both a traditional, two-year option for the MSAT and an accelerated five-year plan that encompasses both the undergraduate and graduate levels. For the latter, students earn both a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science with a pre-athletic training concentration after three years and, subsequently, a Master of Science in Athletic Training after two additional years.
Candidates for this fall’s graduate cohort have either already earned a bachelor’s degree or will this term. The application period has begun and continues through this spring.
Students who have completed or are currently finishing undergraduate programs in exercise science and other allied health disciplines at other colleges and universities, and have completed the program required prerequisites, are likely candidates for Wilmington College’s fall enrollment toward the two-year master’s degree. Interested students may apply to the College’s graduate program through the ATCAS portal https://atcas.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login .
Massie said he is pleased the College’s AT 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.”
WC’s new president, Dr. Trevor Bates, assumed office in January. He possesses a long history of leadership in athletic training and plans to teach in what has become a flagship program at the College.
“Athletic Training is the preeminent allied healthcare profession specifically designed to provide care for physically active persons in a variety of settings. Through mentors, colleagues and firsthand experiences long before my time serving as Wilmington College’s president, I have respected and admired the professional preparation of AT students at WC. Athletic training is a signature program here at Wilmington College and the unique combination of our faculty, clinical field experiences, and strong professional network in the field ensures our graduates will be among the very best!”
CAATE partnered with the National Athletic Trainers’ Assn. and the Board of Certification in mandating this major change in AT education. The Ohio Dept. of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission approved WC’s plans for the graduate program in 2018, en route to the College ultimately securing the CAATE endorsement in 2019.
Massie noted that the 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. They also praised its qualified faculty and staff, and supportive alumni.
In addition, Massie said 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 three “premier” medical partners’ clinics located within the CSS: Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, Rolf’s Chiropractic Care of Cincinnati and Drayer Physical Therapy Institute.
“Athletic training fits so well with the College’s hands-on learning doctrine — who better exemplifies this than our AT students?” Massie added.
Indeed, an alumna of the AT program, Dr. Erika Goodwin, professor of athletic training and WC’s chief of staff, said the new master’s program will continue the College’s focus on “hands on learning,” as well as a strong emphasis on student research and evidence-based practice.
“Our students will have some incredible hands-on experiences in the program – from working with collegiate and high school athletics, physical therapy clinics and chiropractic offices to a general medical rotation with an urgent care and a rotation with Beacon Orthopaedics that features a surgery rotation and a cadaver lab,” she said.
The program requires an internship of the student’s choice that possibly could include such high-profile professional sports organizations as the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals or FC Cincinnati.
“This makes our students very well rounded and highly marketable,” Goodwin added.
Those interested in more information about the emerging MSAT program should contact WC’s Office of Admission or visit www.wilmington.edu/graduate-studies .