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J Athl Train. 1999 Jan-Mar; 34(1): 53–61.
PMCID: PMC1322875

The History and Evolution of Athletic Training Education in the United States

Gary D. Delforge, EdD, ATC* and Robert S. Behnke, HSD, ATC/RET



To present a chronologic review of the history and evolution of athletic training education in the United States as related to the professional growth of athletic training and the National Athletic Trainers' Association.


Commonly accepted characteristics of a profession are an identifiable body of knowledge, the emergence of practitioners as professional authorities, and community recognition. These characteristics establish the criteria by which the professional growth, or professionalization, of athletic training can be judged. With guidance from the National Athletic Trainers' Association, the development of athletic training education programs and credentialing of athletic trainers during the past 50 years have contributed to the professionalization of athletic training.


We present a chronology of the contributions of the National Athletic Trainers' Association to the development of athletic training education in the United States. The activities of various committees, task forces, and Association members are reviewed and traced through the past 5 decades. Early curriculum models and the development of education programs in colleges and universities are discussed.


The historical review of athletic training education in this article will enhance the reader's understanding of the relationships among education, credentialing of practitioners, and professionalism in athletic training.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Starkey C. Reforming athletic training education. J Athl Train. 1997 Apr;32(2):113–114. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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