Failure to Report is a Failure to Protect

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May 16, 2017

By Carrie Baker, PhD, ATC

National Athletic Training Month (NATM) is held every March to increase awareness about athletic training, and the important roles Athletic Trainers (ATs) provide. This year’s slogan “Your Protection is Our Priority” acknowledged the diverse population ATs serve, such as the military, civil servants, performing arts and so on.

As an AT, we are responsible to comply with the Board of Certification (BOC) Standards of Professional Practice as well as the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Code of Ethics for those ATs who are NATA members. Within these documents, ethical practice designates that ATs are responsible for the safety of their patients and to the profession. This sounds much like the slogan for NATM this year, “Your Protection is Our Priority.” Ethical practice also show that ATs have the responsibility to adhere to legal and ethical standards for safe and effective patient care, as well as protecting the credibility of ATs who practice legally.

Have you ever thought about your legal and ethical responsibility before? What does this mean?

Recently the Strategic Alliance released a statement on the duty to report reminding ATs that they have a “legal and ethical responsibility to protect the public from those who engage in the practice of athletic training without proper authorization from a state regulatory agency. "Failure to report known violators is a failure to protect the athletes, public and the profession. You are also at risk as failure to report will result in a disciplinary action by the state and/or the BOC.


From 2011-2012, there was a 4-fold increase in the number of disciplinary cases against ATs, most regarding practicing without proper authority (i.e. licensure, certification or other regulations). It is crucial that you are aware of not only the BOC Standards of Professional Practice, but also your state practice act. Recently the NATA Professional Responsibility Committee (PRC) was founded to support the legal, ethical and regulatory practice standards by encouraging and promoting adherence. The activities of this group will focus on educating ATs, streamlining the process and providing resources for ATs.

While we can present catchy slogans and great marketing, it is truly important to understand the full meaning behind them. The basic goal for any healthcare professional is to do no harm. Patient-centered care is paramount and is what makes ATs so good at providing wonderful, meaningful healthcare. ATs are here to protect the people we serve. Unfortunately, this involves some tough decisions. Dedication to our patients also requires dedication to our profession. We are here to protect our athletes, patients, military personnel, service men and women, performers and recreational athlete. This does not include the person who is not following the rules.

To report unlawful AT practice, please file a complaint with the BOC. Information about filing a complaint is available at:

Correction - June 15, 2017

Upon publication of this blog on May 16, 2017, this article misstated that if you or a non-credentialed unqualified person is part of a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredited athletic training program, the program will be subject to disciplinary action.

The CAATE is not responsible for sanctioning those who do not report non-credentialed practice. If a non-credentialed, unqualified person is serving as either a preceptor or a faculty member who instructs skills necessary for patient care for a CAATE accredited athletic training program, the program would be cited as non-compliant with the Standards for Accreditation. The program would be expected to rectify this issue by no longer allowing non-credentialed personnel to serve in such a capacity. Program personnel who fail to report non-credentialed practice to either the BOC or the associated state regulatory agency would be subject to disciplinary action by the state and/or the BOC, not the CAATE.


About the Author

Baker fam

Carrie Baker, PhD, ATC is the Program Director for the Professional Graduate Athletic Training Program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She received degrees from Castleton State College in 2000, Old Dominion University 2002 and the University of Kentucky 2012. She has spent most of her career as a faculty member teaching athletic training courses, working in Division I athletics, as well as volunteering outreach services to high schools in a variety of locations. Baker has research interests in self-efficacy, balance and injury prevention. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her daughter and husband.

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