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History of Athletic Training at EKU: Part 4 - Brief History of Athletic Training Education and Accreditation

In the previous “Inside Story: From Graduate to Full-Time Athletic Trainers”, the start of a specific athletic training curriculum at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) was mentioned. To understand the development of this curriculum at EKU, it is important to understand athletic training education and accreditation from the national perspective.

The first organizing efforts of the NATA were started in 1938 and struggled until about 1944. After World War II, efforts resumed regionally and smaller organizations within different athletic conferences started to form. In 1950, these organization’s representatives met in Kansas City to form the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. With the start and growth of the national organization, committees soon formed looking to the future growth and organization of the profession. In 1959, the Committee on Gaining Recognition, renamed the Committee on Professional Advancement, presented a curriculum model that was designed to prepare students as athletic trainers and physical education teachers in the high school setting.1,2 This curriculum was outlined by Delforge and Behnke (1999) and included physical therapy school pre-requisites, anatomy/physiology, two courses in athletic training, first aid, and a few other related courses.

It took 10 years from the initial curriculum adoption by the NATA to formally acknowledge the first undergraduate athletic training programs. As more programs began developing curriculums, the requirements were changed in the mid-1970’s to include clinical athletic training experiences but still lacked a clear “athletic training” focus.2 In 1980, the NATA Board of Directors fielded a resolution for all institutions with NATA approved education programs to create a major in athletic training by 1986. This deadline was extended to 1990 and programs that continued to be approved through the NATA were provided a more focused subject matter that included courses like prevention and evaluation of injuries, therapeutic modalities and exercise, and administration.2

In 1990, members of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Committee on Allied Health education and Accreditation (CAHEA) joined with members of the NATA Professional Education Committee. They formed the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Athletic Training (JRC-AT). This was the first step towards accreditation and soon members of other allied healthcare organizations joined the JRC-AT. In 1993, the NATA discontinued the process of approving educational programs and in 1994, the first two programs were initially accredited through CAHEA, after JRC-AT review.  The AMA soon transitioned CAHEA to an independent accrediting organization named the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Little changed in the requirements for accreditation with the transition from CAHEA to CAAHEP but programs initially approved by the NATA came under review between 1994 and 1998. CAAHEP remained the accrediting agency for athletic training programs until 2006, when the JRC-AT became an independent agency and was renamed the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).



1Shoop, J. (unknown). The Southeast Athletic Trainers Association: A Historical Review.
2Delforge GD & Behnke RS. (1999). The History and Evolution of Athletic Training Education in the United States. Journal of Athletic Training, 34(1), 53-61.
3Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. (accessed May 2018). Historical Overview.

Contact Information

Matthew J Sabin

Published on June 14, 2018

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