AT in Residence Shares Experience at NATA 2016

July 20, 2016 by Beth Sitzler

By Katie Scott, MS, ATC

NATA Athletic Trainer in Residence


What a great week in Baltimore!

As I write this, I’m sitting on a plane heading back from what I consider to be a successful, powerful, celebratory and impactful week for our profession. It is hard to believe it has been a year since accepting the role of athletic trainer in residence at the NATA office, and I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to spend another year representing the membership on a day-to-day basis at our headquarters.

As I went through the week at convention, I found myself reminiscing about how much progress has been made on national projects and initiatives as well as my own professional growth in my role by bringing the worlds of athletic training and association management together. It’s truly an exciting time to be in the profession of athletic training! For those who could not attend convention, I want to provide a small recap of some of the week’s events, as well as provide a challenge.

NATA 16 kicked off with a successful day spent in Washington, D.C., for the 2016 Capitol Hill Day. Kudos to the Governmental Affairs Department for its efforts making this momentous event as successful as it was – it was no easy task! With more than 450 participants representing 48 states, Director of Government Affairs Amy Callender and her staff secured more than 1,350 appointments with both members of the Senate and House. A record number of legislators attended these meetings in person as well! I was also extremely proud of our membership following the event; raising more than $1,000 for the NATAPAC in a spur-of-the-moment event that I have lovingly named the #WeBrokeTheBus campaign. If you haven’t attended a Capitol Hill Day event before, I highly encourage you to consider joining us in 2017!

The most impactful event of my week was the NATAPAC Breakfast. Rick Burkholder, MS, ATC, head athletic trainer with the Kansas City Chiefs, was the keynote speaker. He absolutely rocked his time at the podium, presenting our profession with a challenge to, “get out from behind the curtain.” I left that event thinking, “What does this look like?” “What can we do right now to get involved?”

Here is my call to action – I echo Burkholder’s challenge. Find ways to get out from “behind the curtain,” and take advantage of NATA’s current movement toward advocacy and growth of our profession. Here are ways to accomplish this.

Advocate to your local, state and national legislators. For those of you who attended convention and were not able to make it to the NATA Connect booth, look back in your convention guide and complete and mail the advocacy post cards that are inside. If you didn’t attend convention, not to worry! I challenge you to write a short email, or write a letter, to your local legislators; encouraging them to support our current legislation both in the House and Senate. Some of these include H.R. 921 (Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act) and H.Res. 112 (Secondary School Bill of Rights). We made history with H.R. 921 passing unanimously in a recent committee meeting, and I highly encourage you to stay tuned for more updates on both these bills. You can look up your House representative by visiting and searching your registered zip code. Check out the advocacy part of the NATA website for more information regarding these and other bills that impact the profession.

Another critical way you can help the profession is by obtaining your NPI number. As allied health professionals, it is our responsibility and duty to be officially counted by those who use this method of organization. It goes beyond third party reimbursement. Government officials use this number to make decisions on key legislation. It fulfills a requirement of HIPAA. All other health care professionals are required to register for an NPI number. It will improve the recognition of athletic trainers as health care professionals across all settings, and adds credibility to the individual and the profession. Obtaining your NPI is easy to do, and is free. It takes about five to 10 minutes to complete the entire process (the average wait time at the Starbucks line at convention was 40 minutes - I asked!)  NPIs can impact reimbursement efforts, sports safety legislation, lobbying efforts and recognition by CMS. This opportunity applies to athletic training students as well! Check out the NATA website for more information about NPI numbers.

An additional benefit you can take advantage of to “get out from behind the curtain” is use our value models. There are currently value models for the college/university and secondary school settings, though, in my opinion, the concepts presented can be used in all settings. Additional models are also on the way. These models take a business approach to the profession, and are great resources to use when needing direction for ways to show administration the value of the athletic trainer. Executing these concepts by presenting your worth and value to your administration as a medical professional will assist our goals of growth and fostering development within the profession.

NATA officially launched a new public awareness campaign dedicated to providing information to key stakeholders on ways to reduce their risk of injury in work, life and sport. These stakeholders include legislators, athletes, parents and employers. As ATs, I encourage and challenge you to promote and share this website. Direct your patient population to it as another educational opportunity and resource for information relative to injury prevention. Check out more information about At Your Own Risk!

Finally, I highly encourage everyone to use the open comment period CAATE has posted for its Curricular Content. As current certified professionals, we have a responsibility to voice our support or challenge a different mindset about the future educational concepts of our profession. We also have a responsibility to ensure our future professionals are being prepared in the best way possible for their careers. The open comment opportunity can be accessed by going to the CAATE website. The Curricular Content open comments are due by Aug. 1.

I encourage you to reflect on ways you can incorporate your efforts toward the movement of our profession. We welcome your additional ideas for how we can get out from behind the curtain in the comments section here. Start the dialogue, bounce concepts off each other, and take advantage of the platforms provided. As always, if you have any questions, you can reach me at I look forward to another year working for you!