Professional M.S. in Athletic Training Program Earns Initial Accreditation

By Ryan Clark
CHS Director of Communications

The College of Health SciencesProfessional Master of Science in Athletic Training Program (AT) has earned its initial accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

“The accreditation process allows for unlimited opportunity to grow, reflect, and plan,” said Johanna Hoch, PhD, ATC, and Program Director of the Professional Master of Science in Athletic Training. “Oddly enough, these are three of my favorite processes when tackling anything that I do. When I started here in 2017, the date of 2022 seemed so far away, and I can remember being so anxious for the time to get here. But the time flew — I think it was honestly the fastest five years of my life. And here we are today, announcing that we have received initial accreditation. I do hope that all of our readers can see my smile through these words.”

Hoch went on to note how it was an entire team of faculty, staff, clinicians and the Program’s Medical Director who made the achievement possible.

“The team of people that have been involved in this process are amazing and must be acknowledged for their efforts,” she said. “When I arrived in 2017, there were very eager faculty and administrators that had already started some of the heavy foundational processes to get the program started.”

She noted that one of her many visions for the program was that it would reflect the mission, vision, values, and retain the history and traditions of athletic training education at the University of Kentucky.

“I wanted to make sure that this program was a product of our stakeholders and was developed with a team of people,” she said. “I am proud to say that I believe this program is just that. This program is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our program faculty, department staff, college administration, our preceptors, clinicians in our community, our medical director, and of course, our students. It reflects the values, mission and vision of our team and continues to evolve into the history and traditions of athletic training education here at the University of Kentucky. Without these individuals this would not have been possible, and I am forever grateful for their efforts, continued support, and desire to prepare professional level athletic trainers. WE did this!”

Phillip Gribble, PhD, ATC, FNATA, Professor and the Chair of the Department of Athletic Training and Clinical Nutrition, as well as the Program Director for previous post-professional master's program in Athletic Training, agreed.

“This initial accreditation announcement reflects the quality of our program, from our faculty and staff to our students,” he said. “It has been an involved process, but one we were glad to take on, and we are very proud for everyone to have achieved this outcome.”

The University of Kentucky began offering a post-professional Master of Science in Athletic Training Program in 2001 and was initially accredited in 2008. The decision to transition to a Professional Master of Science in Athletic Training was officially made in 2014. Representatives began meeting regularly to develop the curriculum and official program proposal for the Professional Program in February 2015. By May 2016, the faculty completed the final proposal to transition the existing Master of Science in Athletic Training from a post-professional to a professional degree program, with the target date for implementation of the Professional Program of Summer 2020.

In March of 2017, Hoch was hired as Program Director, and she assumed her faculty role as an Assistant Professor in July 2017. In that same year, she began to oversee the necessary approvals to offer the Professional Program. In March 2018, the Professional Program was approved by the University of Kentucky Senate, and all final approvals for the Program were received in Fall 2018. The first cohort of students began in May of 2020.

“It has been a meticulous journey, and those who have brought this long-standing post Professional Athletic Training program to this now accredited Professional Master’s degree program in Athletic Training need to be commended,” said Scott Lephart, PhD and Dean of the College of Health Sciences. “Through their hard work and effort, we can continue to provide the best forms of education for our students, which will only then continue to help our community and our Commonwealth.”

Hoch said the next step for the program includes even more growth, reflection and planning.

“An additional vision that all of our stakeholders are keenly aware of, is that we engage in continuous quality improvement in order to maximize our potential and grow beyond our wildest imagination,” she said. “Soon we will be back in meetings. But first, we will celebrate our first graduating cohort in May 2022, the students that have been with us since the first day of the first course offering. Soon after we celebrate their accomplishments, we will welcome our third cohort in May 2022, and see our second cohort head off to their immersions in July. So much to be excited about, but more work to be done!”