Weaker standards for athletic trainers worry parents

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It could soon be a whole lot easier to call yourself an athletic trainer.

State Lawmakers are considering a measure that would eliminate more than a dozen licensing boards, including one for athletic trainers or AT's.

Heidi Gessner doesn't like the idea. She says her teenage daughter suffered a hip injury while playing lacrosse. She recovered with the help of an athletic trainer.

"She had to do constant physical rehab on her own. And that's another way the trainer was so great," Gessner said.

State lawmakers in the Oversight Occupational Licensing Subcommittee are reviewing the state's Board of Athletic Trainer Examiners, which provides licenses to certified athletic trainers.

This means someone without the necessary educational background and training could coin themselves an athletic trainer.

Nina Walker, the head AT for the UNC-Chapel Hill men's lacrosse team doesn't like the subcommittee's proposal.

"Athletic trainers treat patients in very vulnerable situations. They are concussed. They have heat illness," Walker said. "They are in situations where they can't advocate for themselves. I think parents need to know who the individual is that is taking care of their child when they are not there."

Lawmakers in the subcommittee are considering eliminating 14 out of 55 state licensing boards.

Some of the occupational licenses on the chopping block include:

  • Electrologists and Laser Hair Practitioners

  • Pastoral Counselors

  • Interpreters and Transliterators

  • Irrigation Contractors

  • Recreational Therapists and Assistants

  • Acupuncturists

  • Athletic Trainers

  • Foresters

  • Podiatrists

  • Alarm Systems Business

  • Fire and Casualty Insurance Licenses and Life and health insurance licenses

  • Employee Assistance Professionals

  • Certified Clinical Perfusionists

  • Public Librarians

  • The state is considering reassigning some occupational licenses to existing boards

  • Opticians

  • Midwives

  • Respiratory Care Practitioners

  • Marriage and Family Therapists

  • Substance Abuse Therapists

  • Cape Fear River Pilots and Morehead City Harbor and Beaufort Bar Pilots licenses

  • Rep. Jonathan Jordan of Ashe and Watauga Counties, says the measure is to ensure the state is not over-regulating people out of jobs. Rep. Jordan also says the subcommittee will consider keeping board licenses that protect public health and safety.

    For Gessner, that means keeping athletic trainers licensed in North Carolina.

    "I would really ask them to think carefully about our kids and how it could impact them."

    The licenses are not funded by taxpayers. Lawmakers in the subcommittee are still reviewing this list.

    A final draft will go before a full committee vote on April 5.

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