Sunset Review Committee Meets to Discuss Athletic Trainer Licensing

Does Arkansas make it harder for athletic trainers to do their job?

On November 18th, the Occupational Licensing Review Subcommittee of the Arkansas State Legislature met to review licensing requirements from several state licensing boards. Included among these was the State Board of Athletic Trainers. Athletic trainers are skilled professionals that specialize in preventing and treating athletic and sports related injuries.

Arkansas is similar to other states in the region in how we license athletic trainers, with one exception. The state requires 50 hours of annual continuing education hours for athletic trainers, almost twice as much as any other state in the South. For example, Mississippi and Tennessee both require 25 hours, and Louisiana requires only twelve. Missouri and Oklahoma both do not require any continuing education hours for athletic trainers.

Senator Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), co-chair of the committee, questioned representatives of the State Board of Athletic Trainers as to why our requirements are so much higher than other states in the region. Mr. Russell Burns, Director of the Arkansas State Board of Athletic Trainers, said that in his understanding, continuing education for athletic trainers is handled by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC), a national credentialing organization for athletic trainers.

Certification through the BOC is optional in most states, including Arkansas. However, unlike most states, Arkansas defaults to the BOC’s high continuing education requirements. Every other state in the South sets their own standards for continuing education.

The mandate of the Occupational Licensing Review Subcommittee is to determine whether a given license contributes to public health and safety. If having nearly double the continuing education requirements as any other state in the region does not do that, then the requirements should be changed.

Continuing education is important, but Arkansas requires more than is necessary. If these requirements do not change, we risk losing qualified professionals to neighboring states with lower overall licensing burdens. Right now, it’s much easier for an athletic trainer to relocate to Missouri or Oklahoma than it is to Arkansas.

To watch a short video comparing Arkansas’s license requirements for athletic trainers to other states, go here.

To watch the November 18th subcommittee meeting, go here.

For more on ACRE’s occupational licensing research, visit this page.