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by Art Horne

In the classic model for the care of student athletes, sports medicine and performance training services are provided under the supervision of the athletics department. This has been challenged recently with suggestions of alternate organizational schemes, including at Boston University, where oversight of athletic training services was transferred from athletics to college health, arranging athletic training services into “medically-oriented units.”

At Boston University, they noted some key advantages: delivery of superior health care services, improved on-going educational opportunities for staff and students, and enhanced working conditions for athletic trainers.

In 2011, here at Northeastern University we followed suit, placing both athletic training and performance services under the direct supervision of sports medicine personnel. The head team physician for the university provides oversight for a dual-trained athletic trainer and strength coach who directs these sports performance services. These changes were in response to difficulties we had observed, including an apparent lack of standardization of services, especially related to prevention models provided by athletic training and strength and conditioning.

Also apparent were communication breaches between and among the coaching staff, strength and conditioning personnel, sports medicine providers, and the student-athletes who were receiving care from these individuals.

So university authorities agreed to implement a new model for the care of student athletes that placed athletic training as well as strength and conditioning under the supervision of sports medicine. This allowed us to consider the potential advantages as well as challenges that will be encountered as the model is implemented.

One clear advantage is to improve collaboration during pre-participation screening for athletes. In 2007, the NCAA mandated that all student athletes receive a pre-participation examination (PPE) by medical staff prior to engaging in collegiate sports.


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