The Athletic Training Program traces its origin to 1965 when Elmer Kortemyer was hired as the first full-time athletic trainer at UNI. During Kortemyer's tenure he was able to begin establishing an internship-based AT Program which was formalized with the approval of an athletic training minor in the fall of 1970. At that time, the ATP was one of the programs located within the Men's Physical Education Department. In 1974, the Women's Physical Education Department hired Sharon Huddleston, the first female athletic trainer at UNI. Although both departments hired athletic trainers, only men were able to minor in athletic training until 1978 when the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) was established. The ATP was then housed within the Division of Health.
In 1977 Dave Burton was hired as the head athletic trainer and oversaw the administration of the ATP. Burton was instrumental in building the athletic training service and educational programs. During his tenure Burton hired two assistants and one graduate assistant, renovated the athletic training facilities, and developed new athletic training courses. In 1985 Burton left UNI for the University of Colorado at Boulder.
In 1985 Terrance G. Noonan replaced Burton as the Head Athletic Trainer. Noonan had been an assistant to Burton since 1980 and was a natural choice for the position. During his tenure he established the UNI Student Athletic Training Organization (UNISATO) and started developing a curriculum-based AT Program. In 1996 the Division of Health found that the AT Program did not fit the central mission of their division. The AT Program was then moved to the Physical Education Division. Noonan then appointed one of his assistants, Marchelle Austin, to begin the process of creating an Athletic Training Major, which was to develop into a CAAHEP accredited Entry-Level AT Program. The AT Program, however, was not approved due to the lack of doctorally-trained faculty. Mr. Noonan stayed at UNI until 1999 when he left to become the Head Athletic Trainer at Oklahoma State University. In 2007, Mr. Noonan joined the University of Iowa as Director of Athletic Training Services.
In 1997 Dr. Christopher R. Edginton, Director of the School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services, established a tenure-track faculty position for an Assistant Professor in support of the AT Program. In 1998 Dr. Richard Biff Williams was hired for this position. In the fall of 1998 Dr. Williams wrote a proposal for an Athletic Training Major, which was approved by the Iowa Board of Regents in May of 2000. While waiting for the approval of the Athletic Training Major by the Iowa Board of Regents, Dr. Williams completed the Athletic Training Accreditation Candidacy report which was approved in October of 1999. Dr. Williams then completed the Athletic Training Program Self-Study, which was submitted September 1, 2000. The ATP was formally awarded accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs on October 19, 2001.
The Athletic Training Program at UNI is housed within the Division of Athletic Training. The Division of Athletic Training was created in April of 2002. Dr. Peter Neibert directs the Division under the direction of Dr. Mickey Mack, director of the School of KAHHS. The AT Program faculty consists of five full-time tenure track faculty, four part-time faculty, and numerous preceptors.
The UNI AT Program is centered upon a 54 credit hour Bachelor of Arts degree in Athletic Training. Students (freshmen, transfers, etc.) desiring admission into the Athletic Training Program must first meet all of the prerequisites and admission criteria. The students take Introduction to Athletic Training during their second semester at UNI. During that same semester, interested students apply to the program by March 1. Once admitted into the program, the students will then begin a formal curricular plan and clinical experience rotation.
The AT Program is a six-semester program. There are six clinical experiences that act as laboratory courses for the program core courses within the Athletic Training Major. Each laboratory course follows the didactic course and is designed to provide students ample supervised practice time, allowing successful completion of their athletic training clinical proficiencies. Students are not allowed to practice clinical proficiencies within their clinical experience until they have successfully passed a particular proficiency during their clinical education course(s). The clinical education courses are designed to have a maximum ratio of 8 students to 1 instructor. The students taking these courses are also directly supervised at all times.
The philosophy of the clinical education is that the student must learn the clinical skills and abilities in a directly supervised and controlled environment. The intent is to provide a comfortable learning environment that provides immediate feedback. Once the student is able to pass the clinical proficiency at an entry-level (95% or better), he or she is allowed to master the skill in an uncontrolled but supervised clinical environment.
Athletic Training clinical experiences are divided into three years. Students are assigned to a preceptor that will directly supervise them during each experience. The second year students complete where they can engage in different settings, staff and patient populations that may include UNI sports, high schools, a semi-professional hockey team and physical therapy clinics. During the third year, the students are assigned an annual rotation as a head athletic training student. Third-year assignments are either on- or off-campus, depending upon the career goals and needs of the student. The student is the head athletic training student, but continues to be directly supervised by their preceptor. This process allows the student to transform into the role of a practicing professional who is prepared to enter the profession as a Certified Athletic Trainer.
Students are directly supervised and evaluated throughout the program. The students meet with their preceptors as well as their faculty advisor to review their progress and evaluations within the program. The students must follow the athletic training curricular plan in order to ensure that they learn the athletic training educational competencies and proficiencies before they practice them. The final goal is that each student is prepared to take the Board of Certification Examination.