Launching the new master’s in athletic training this summer

Athletic Training students observe as an athlete swims in an infinity pool

Continuing UWM’s long history of exceptional athletic training professional education, the College of Health Sciences has transitioned from an undergraduate program to a Master of Science (MS) degree in athletic training.

The new degree offering responds to a shift in accreditation and licensure requirements required of athletic trainers, who specialize in the prevention and treatment/rehabilitation of patients and clients whose injuries result from intense physical activity.

Foundations for certification

The MS in Athletic Training will replace the Bachelor of Science previously offered at UWM. Students in the program will benefit from classroom-, technology- and laboratory-based instruction. In addition, each student will have the opportunity to complete a capstone clinical education experience in the community.

Jennifer E. Earl-Boehm, PhD, ATC, FNATA, and associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Integrative Health Care & Performance (IHCP) Unit is heading the program. As the Program Director, Earl-Boehm is excited about what the Milwaukee region brings to students’ experiences in the program.

“Ours is an urban, metropolitan community, which means that learning can happen in many contexts. Athletic trainers work in performing arts, military, civil service and many other settings beyond athletics. People don’t often realize that athletic trainers do much more than tape ankles.”

An emphasis on inter-professional education

The program is distinctive for its emphasis on inter-professional classroom and clinical education. Several of the courses include inter-professional learning with students from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, Master of Science in Kinesiology program. They are also available to students in the College of Nursing and the Zilber School of Public Health. Students have community-based learning experiences in each semester, not just during the capstone experience. Doing so positions students to transition into practice more seamlessly after graduation.

The program will begin enrolling students in summer of 2017. As of 2022, all athletic trainers will be required to have completed their master’s degree. As one of very few institutions in the state to offer MSAT programs, UWM is ahead of the curve.

Expanded career opportunities for students

The field of athletic training is diverse. Athletic trainers are health care professionals who work as part of a collaborative team to provide services in the domains of injury prevention, diagnosis, emergency care and rehabilitation.

Athletic training professional education has moved to a master’s level to provide students with advanced clinical reasoning skills, opportunities to work in inter-professional teams and the necessary skills to practice with greater autonomy. This advanced training enables certified athletic trainers to better respond to the rapidly changing health care environment.

With an emphasis on integrated person-centered care and cultural competence, the program at UWM brings evidence-based practice to the next level. Students practice and refine their clinical problem solving skills in the context of direct patient care, under the supervision of a licensed athletic trainer who is an experienced educator.

The highlights of the new program

“Our inter-professional learning and practice experiences are critical in developing our students into exceptional athletic trainers and health care professionals. Students work with peers across disciplines and have the opportunity to learn from each other,” said Earl-Boehm. “Our curriculum is well-rounded as it is rigorous. Our students go on to find jobs with professional sports teams, universities, high schools, sports medicine clinics and hospitals, among others.”

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects an increase in athletic training jobs of 19% from 2002 to 2022. In the greater Milwaukee area alone (Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington counties), jobs are projected to increase 16%. Licensed athletic trainers will be in high demand, and UWM seeks to meet that demand with excellently trained, community-focused graduates.