Professional Growth in Every Setting

October 20, 2020 by Claire Williams



Home to athletic trainers throughout their careers, NATA provides its members access to professional growth, support, connection and advocacy. Through this semiweekly blog series, members will share what made them join NATA, the value of membership and how, together, we are NATA. Don’t forget, the deadline to renew your 2021 NATA membership is Dec. 31. Renew or join today and learn more about the benefits of NATA membership.

Achieving growth professionally as an athletic trainer takes a combination of networking, support and continued education – NATA is dedicated to facilitating each of these for members. Historically, NATA has been a supporter of its members’ professional growth and the growth of the profession since its founding in 1950, as 48-year member Marje Albohm, MS, AT Ret., can attest to.

Albohm was one of the first ATs to venture into the clinical practice setting when she joined an orthopedic surgeon’s clinic to treat patients as an athletic trainer in the 1980s. She said NATA has always been supportive of athletic trainers breaking into new settings, with a willingness to grow alongside members to provide better resources for them to be successful through forming committees and task forces, hosting networking events and creating continuing education courses and programs.

“I couldn’t imagine not being a member of NATA,” Albohm said. “These are programs and tools that are essential to my career, development and growth.”

NATA committees are comprised of members with unique experiences and qualifications who volunteer to support going beyond foundational settings and into emerging settings, such as public safety, performing arts and occupational health. These committees work year-round to increase development opportunities for ATs.

NATA continues to support these efforts, including the NATA Council on Practice Advancement, the NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee, the NATA Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine and the NATA Executive Council for Education, by facilitating ways for committee members to connect and network, and move the profession forward.

“NATA totally facilitated the conversation, the meetings, the exploration of these new settings and how to validate them, how to grow them because it was good for the individual member, as well as the profession,” Albohm said.

Continuing education is another way NATA supports individual member professional growth, and those opportunities have expanded into the online NATA Professional Development Center (PDC). The PDC is certified by the Board of Certification Inc. and offers more than 300 continuing education courses and webinars for athletic trainers, and is the best resource for members to earn CEUs affordably and conveniently, Albohm said.

Albohm said the PDC’s offering of evidence-based practice continuing education courses are “so superior.”

“NATA totally supports our continuing education and the evidence-based practice requirements; that’s the only we stay current and get better,” she said.

The PDC offers a wide range of courses on topics that athletic trainers confront every day, no matter which setting. The variety of courses have evolved alongside the profession, and now includes courses on telemedicine, treating industrial athletes, work-life balance and AT mental health and avoiding burnout as an athletic trainer.

“I firmly believe [the content] is still relevant,” Albohm said of the PDC courses available to all NATA members, even as the profession has expanded into new settings. “It’s still relevant to each and every athletic trainer regardless of where they are in their career and regardless of their practice setting, relevant to those individuals to continue to grow.”

NATA is dedicated to facilitating all opportunities for athletic trainers to advance their careers, whether that is through year-round continuing education opportunities or providing ways for members to connect, allowing ATs to network with their peers.

The annual NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo has become the go-to event for NATA members to not only network and connect with other athletic trainers, but it is also the biggest in-person event for continuing education opportunities, according to the NATA Convention Programming Committee. The NATA convention offers athletic trainers more than 100 courses over three days, led by experts in athletic training and sports medicine, to earn CEUs in real-time.

Additionally, NATA launched the NATA Leadership Academy to encourage the development, increase training and preparation of future association leaders. The Leadership Academy offers both on-demand courses available through the PDC, and the Leadership Development Certificate, a 12- to 24-month program targeted toward members interested in pursuing leadership at the state, district or national level.

It’s opportunities such as volunteering on committees, attending annual meetings and networking events and completing continuing education that pushes NATA members forward in their careers, Albohm said.

“Athletic trainers are the NATA,” Albohm said. “NATA being so committed to providing us with the tools and the skills and the opportunity to advance professionally means that the profession advances and the association advances – we are one, you can’t have one without the other.”

NATA membership renewal for 2021 is now open. In order to maintain member status and retain all NATA member benefits, payment in full is due no later than Dec. 31. As a reminder, 2021 is a reporting year for all certified members. All members who renew their 2021 membership with NATA will receive 10 free CEU to use in the PDC between Feb. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021.

Additionally, in response to the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on so many members, NATA is offering an installment payment option. Installments will be available for a limited time only and the first payment must be received by Oct. 31. Installments will be paid in four consecutive, equal payments from October to January 2021. Members who complete their installment payments will continue to have full, uninterrupted access to their NATA member benefits.

For more information and to renew your NATA membership, visit the NATA membership renewal webpage.