Historical Overview

The Beginning


The Athletic Training Education Program (ATEP) traces it's origin to 1965 when Elmer Kortemyer was hired as the first full-time athletic trainer at the University of Northern Iowa. During Kortemyer's tenure he was able to begin establishing an internship based ATEP which was formalized with the approval of an athletic training minor in the fall of 1970. At that time, the ATEP 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 the University of Northern Iowa. 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 ATEP 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 ATEP. 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 selection for the position. During his tenure he established the University of Northern Iowa Student Athletic Training Organization (UNISATO) and started the development of a curriculum based ATEP. In 1996 the Division of Health found that the ATEP did not fit the central mission of their division. The ATEP 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 ATEP. The ATEP, 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 ATEP. 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 Education Program Self-Study, which was submitted September 1, 2000. The ATEP was formally awarded accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs on October 19, 2001.


Current Program Description


The Athletic Training Education Program (ATEP) at the University of Northern Iowa is housed within the Division of Athletic Training. The Division of Athletic Training was created in April of 2002. Dr. Windee Weiss directs the Division under the direction of Dr. Doris Corbett, director of the School of Health, Physical Education and Leisure Services. The ATEP faculty consists of four full-time tenure track faculty, four part-time faculty, and 24 field experience supervisors.


The University of Northern Iowa ATEP is centered upon a 54 credit hour Bachelor of Arts degree in Athletic Training. Students (freshmen, transfers, etc.) desiring admission into the Athletic Training Education Program must first meet all of the pre-requisites 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 the first day of March. Once admitted into the program, the students will then begin a formal curricular plan and field experience rotation.


The ATEP 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 field experience until they have successfully passed a particular proficiency during their clinical experience course(s). The clinical experience 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 for which the clinical and field experience education is based, is that the student must learn the clinical proficiencies 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 field experience environment.


Athletic Training field experiences are divided into three years. The first year the students stay on campus at UNI and are provided four seven-week field experiences rotations. Students are assigned to a field experience supervisor that will directly supervise them during each field experience. The second year students complete four seven-week rotations at affiliated sites where they can see different settings, staff, and patient populations. 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, dependent upon the career goals and needs of the student. The student is the head athletic training student, but continues to be directly supervised by an approved clinical instructor. 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 field experience supervisors 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 NATA Board of Certification Examination.