California Assembly Bill 864 is an attempt to address the issue of under-qualified athletic trainers practicing in the profession. California is one of two states that does not have laws regulating the athletic training profession. The legislation was introduced by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner.
AB 864 would establish the Athletic Trainer Licensing Committee within the Physical Therapy Board of California. The committee would consist of four certified athletic trainers, one physician, one physical therapist, and a member of the public. This committee will be in charge of enforcing the regulations.
Those wishing to become an athletic trainer (AT) would have to register for licensure. The regulations are projected to be cost-neutral. Fees to register and acquire licensure would cover the law's cost of administration.
The bill would also prohibit the use of the title "Athletic Trainer" or several variations of it without valid licensing. The established committee would approve education and training programs necessary for earning a license.
The California Athletic Trainers' Association (CATA), which represents over 2,200 ATs, is sponsoring the bill. From the bill's official analysis, CATA reports:
"AB 864 will for the first time provide a defined scope for this frontline medical profession that is consistent with the extensive education, training and certification of athletic trainers and ensure physician oversight." "It will provide assurance of minimum standards of competence of practitioners and will allow those that are practicing illegally, unsafely or unethically to be sanctioned."
Assemblymember Brian Maienschein was the only "NO" vote on the bill in the Assembly Committee on Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection. He was contacted for comment about the vote and stated:
"I voted against the bill to license athletic trainers because of the serious concerns that were raised by opposition testimony. My main concern was that the bill was overbroad and potentially allowed untrained personnel to provide medical treatment. Therefore, I was unable to support this bill."
Opposing arguments express the concerns of over-regulation and a broad reach into related professions. The California Nurses Association says physical therapists have the same, if not, more rigorous training in the field. However, practitioners would still be required to attain an AT license if they wish to work in athletics.
Paying license fees and being subject to the review of a state committee are regulations the opposition sees as unnecessary. However, the argument can be made that the bill is necessary to prevent athletic training malpractice and the benefits outweigh the setbacks.
Athletic trainers manage injury, illness, and health risks for athletic programs at schools, special events, and businesses. ATs are responsible for diagnosing serious situations such as head injuries and concussions, sensitive injuries that can lead to permanent damage or be fatal.
(Assembly Bill 864 can be downloaded and read here.)