CORRECTION, Feb. 20, 2004 -- The Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Athletic Training (JRC-AT) has notified FHSU that information supplied to FHSU during the accreditation site visit was incorrect with respect to graduates of the program during the calendar year in which accreditation was granted. Specifically, this means that the four May 2003 graduates of FHSU's athletic training program are not considered graduates of an accredited program. Fort Hays State was notified of its accreditation on Oct. 20, 2003, and graduates of the program after that date are considered graduates of an accredited athletic training program.
HAYS, KS -- Athletic training at Fort Hays State University has a 30-year history and numerous distinguished alumni. But the program faced a new hurdle when the National Athletic Trainers? Association (NATA) Board of Directors voted to eliminate the traditional apprenticeship route for educating athletic training students, which left only one route to certification, the accredited program route.
This meant that any internship athletic training program had to seek program accreditation or lose the opportunity to educate future athletic trainers.
For FHSU, that meant two things. First was getting the major approved by the various committees and agencies of the university and state, culminating with the Kansas Board of Regents. That was accomplished in June 2002.
Second, though, was getting accreditation for the Athletic Training Education Program, a two- to three-year process.
"Fort Hays has a long tradition of educating athletic training students," said Mark Stutz, assistant professor of health and human performance and director of the athletic training program.
Stutz noted that FHSU has athletic trainers in the NFL, the NBA and at Division I NCAA athletic programs. They include Brad Brown, head athletic trainer for the NFL's Tennessee Titans, Jim Gillen, head athletic trainer for the Denver Nuggets, Dave Burton, head athletic trainer for the University of Washington, and Mitzi Dusin, assistant athletic trainer at the University of Rhode Island.
?In order to be able to continue to do that,? said Stutz, ?we had to get accredited.?
NATA?s Board of Certification, the credentialing organization for athletic trainers, announced that Jan. 1, 2004, was the deadline for students graduating from internship programs to sit for the national examination. After that date, anyone seeking to take the certification exam has to graduate from an accredited program.
FHSU?s bachelor of science in athletic training is offered through the Department of Health and Human Performance in the College of Health and Life Sciences. Before that, athletic training was an emphasis area in the Physical Education Department.
Athletic training is now the second major within the Department of Health and Human Performance. The other is the B.S. in health and human performance, with three emphasis areas: sports and recreation management, teaching and coaching, and health promotion and wellness.
FHSU was notified of the athletic training accreditation on Oct. 20. The initial accreditation period is in effect for five years, until Oct. 31, 2008.
?Obviously, we?re happy about it,? said Stutz. ?It was a long, involved process, but due to the dedication of the administration, faculty, staff and students, the program is now accredited.?
The accreditation includes the four athletic training graduates who walked the stage in May 2003: Valerie Imming, Topeka, Jamie Kohl, Ellis, Curtis Lauterbach, Attica, and Margo Lockwood, Hiawatha.
?They were really happy when they found out that the accreditation included all students graduating during 2003 as they now are graduates of an accredited athletic training program, which will help them as well as all graduates obtain future employment,? said Stutz.
"I'm very excited for the opportunities that this opens for Fort Hays State University," said Lockwood, "and I am fortunate to have graduated from their accredited program."
Lockwood, of course, was a student through the process of gaining accreditation. She said, "I'm extremely proud of the program for becoming accredited. It was a difficult task, and a lot of hard work and time went into achieving this goal."
A current student, Jeremy Tjarks (pronounced "jarks"), Rose Hill junior, said, "I'm thrilled that the program has been accredited. I've always known that this was one of the best athletic training programs in the state and this verifies the program's already high standards."
"I feel that the program receiving accreditation is a huge step forward for an already quality program," said Brett Macklin, Smith Center senior in the AT program. He clearly believes that accreditation is a boost to confidence in the program, but he went on to say, "The biggest positive aspect of this program is the quality staff who do their best to make FHSU a quality learning environment."
Kohl, another of the spring 2003 graduates, is now a graduate assistant at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.
"Now that I am a graduate assistant at a Division I college, I know by comparison of other graduate assistants from larger schools than FHSU that athletic training students at my alma mater receive an educational experience second to none."
Kohl, also, was a student during the process of accreditation.
"Being involved in much of the work and changes during the process makes me appreciate it much more," he said. "Knowing that we made a difference for ourselves and future FHSU athletic training students that will in turn further our profession is very satisfying."
The process involved what is called a ?self-study,? which the program undertakes during the two- to three-year candidacy period. This study identifies how the program compares to a list of standards and guidelines established by the accrediting agency ? The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or CAAHEP (pronounced KAY-hep).
Stutz said the program and the guidelines are compared and explained point by point in narrative form with related appendices, which are sent to CAAHEP. The requested information includes such things as alumni results on the national examination, the number of clinical instructors (13 total for FHSU?s program), catalogues, job descriptions, budgets, admission standards, course sequencing, syllabi, and the qualifications of faculty members, among other things.
Next comes a review of the self-study by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Athletic Training (JRC-AT) and, finally, if the study is accepted, comes the site visit, which was in May 2003 for FHSU.
?The site-visit team from the JRC-AT comes to campus and verifies all of the information included in the self-study,? said Stutz. He said site-visitors interviewed the president, the provost, the faculty, students, the dean, the department chair, Stutz, athletic training faculty and clinical instructors, the team physician, library personnel and student health center personnel and made visits to all four clinical sites (two on campus, one at Hays High School and one at Hays Medical Center.)
In addition to Stutz, the athletic training faculty includes Brian Razak, an instructor of health and human performance and the university's head athletic trainer; Brady Ternes, HHP instructor and the university's assistant athletic trainer; and Ed Wilkerson, HHP instructor and also the head softball coach and an assistant athletic trainer.
In addition to the four full-time athletic training faculty, the program also has five clinical instructors at Hays Medical Center and four graduate assistants: Jenny Guernsey, Benkelman, NE; Lauterbach, one of the four spring 2003 graduates; Morgan Miller, Downs; and Sabrina Stephens, Mt. Washington, KY.