MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Athletic trainers across the country are getting some recognition this month. March is National Athletic Training Month, honoring those who keep student-athletes healthy.
Most people think athletic trainers are just the people who run out on the field when a player gets hurt and tape ankles, but the role of an athletic trainer is much bigger than that.
ULM’s head athletic trainer Jason Dunavant says he spends 12 hours a day on campus. He helps student-athletes with illness, injuries, and even mental support.
Dunavant says athletic trainers are always on their toes because they're the first people to respond to injuries.
"We need to remind people that we're more than just the people who run out on the field all the time. We have other aspects that we do,” he says. “Even though you see one athletic trainer on the field, there are probably two to three somewhere else around the venue that are acting as the emergency medical standby."
ULM has four staff members and six graduate students working as athletic trainers right now. The ULM training staff has also expanded recently, providing healthcare to the cheer, dance, and water skiing teams.
Dunavant says in the past few years, new research has been released about concussions, heart health, and the mental health of student-athletes.
With so much changing in recent years, there’s an increased need for healthcare professionals. That’s why Dunavant says he sees a bright future for athletic training and students who want to enter the field.
"The field as an allied healthcare profession is growing exponentially. We've raised our minimum standards from a bachelor's to a master’s degree. The popularity of sport and the popularity of medicine just provides an outlet for athletic training and the profession to grow," he explains.