In June 1990, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially recognized athletic training as an allied health care profession. The primary purpose of this recognition was to have the profession of athletic training recognized in the same context as other allied health care professions and to be held to similar professional and educational expectations, as well as to allow for the accreditation of educational programs.29 Overseen by NATA's Professional Education Committee (PEC), since 1969 athletic training education programs became the responsibility of the AMA. The AMA's Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA) was charged with developing the requirements (Essentials and Guidelines) for the structure and function of academic programs to prepare entry-level athletic trainers. The Joint Review Committee on Athletic Training (JRC-AT) was originally charged with evaluating athletic training education programs seeking accreditation and making recommendations to CAHEA as to whether those educational programs met the necessary criteria to become an accredited program in athletic training education. The JRC-AT was made up of representatives from the NATA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. As of 1993, all entry-level athletic training education programs became subject to the CAHEA accreditation process.
In June 1994, CAHEA was dissolved and was replaced immediately by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The CAAHEP is recognized as an accreditation agency for allied health education programs by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA is a private, nonprofit national organization that coordinates accreditation activity in the United States. Formed in 1996, its mission is to promote academic quality through formal recognition of higher education accreditation bodies and to work to advance self-regulation through accreditation. Recognition by CHEA affirms that standards and processes of accrediting organizations are consistent with the quality, improvement, and accountability expectations that CHEA has established. Entry-level bachelors and masters athletic training education programs that were at one time approved by NATA, and subsequently accredited by CAHEA, were accredited by CAAHEP through 2005.
In 2003, the JRC-AT leadership decided that the profession of athletic training had matured and outgrown the structure and constraints of CAAHEP and that the profession would be better served if the JRC-AT became an independent accrediting agency like those in the other allied health professions. This change meant that, instead of the JRC-AT making accreditation recommendations to CAAHEP, the JRC-AT would accredit athletic training education programs. In 2006, the JRC-AT had officially become the Committee for Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). As of 2014, CAATE was officially recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Through recognition by CHEA, CAATE is in the same context/level as CAAHEP and other national accreditors.
The effects of CAATE accreditation are not limited to just educational aspects. In the future, this recognition may affect regulatory legislation, the practice of athletic training in nontraditional settings, and insurance considerations. This recognition will continue ...