Hope College has become only the fourth institution in the state of Michigan to have its athletic training program receive accreditation, and is the first private liberal arts college in the state to do so.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health
Education Programs (CAAHEP) has awarded the new program
accreditation for five years, the maximum period allowed.
The accreditation became effective in April.
Athletic trainers are allied health care
professionals who prevent, manage and rehabilitate injuries
in physically active populations.
Approximately 90 colleges and universities
nationwide have received accreditation for their athletic
training programs. The other three institutions in Michigan
to hold accreditation are Central Michigan University,
Eastern Michigan University and Grand Valley State
According to Dr. Richard Ray, who is coordinator
of the athletic training education program and an associate
professor of kinesiology at Hope, the accreditation is
crucial given changes coming soon in athletic trainer
"Starting in 2004, only graduates of accredited
programs will be eligible for certification," he said. "So
it was necessary for us if we are going to stay in this
business to develop an accredited program."
The method being phased out is the one followed by
Hope prior to creating its
current program, and still widely-used elsewhere: allowing
students to participate in a clearly-outlined internship
experience. According to Ray, each year about 600
institutions are producing candidates for certification--
approval to work in the field by the National Athletic
Trainers' Association (NATA).
He feels it likely that the stringent requirements
for accreditation--CAAHEP defines 49 standards that programs
should meet--will limit the number of programs able to
produce athletic trainers.
"Which is good for the profession," he said.
"Because it means that when you hire an athletic trainer,
you know what you're getting. You know the skills that they
have and what they can do, and that hasn't always been
Another likely result, Ray noted, is that the
certified programs will experience increased demand, since
some 5,000 students nationwide seek certification each year
but will have fewer options from which to choose.
Athletic training is one of three majors offered
through the college's department of kinesiology (the others
are exercise science and physical education).
The major consists of 48 credit hours in a variety
of disciplines, out of the 126 hours all Hope students must
complete to graduate. As was also true through the
internship program, the athletic training students must also
complete at least 1,500 hours of clinical work under the
supervision of a certified athletic trainer. To obtain
certification, they must subsequently pass a three-part NATA
Students must apply to participate in the major,
with the number of slots limited by the field placements
available. There were 20 enrolled during 1997-98, and eight
freshmen are coming in with the new school year.
The program produced its first three graduates in
May: Tonia Bruins of Zeeland, Kelly Gilroy of Lansing and
Lisa Jutte of Clayton, Ohio.