Hillsborough County Schools approve adding Certified Athletic Trainers in all high schools

USF Health has agreed to provide Certified Athletic Trainers  to Hillsborough County Schools through its SMART Institute, a comprehensive sports safety program in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

The School Board voted Aug. 20 to allocate $270,000 to place Certified Athletic Trainers (ATs) at all high schools in the county year-round who will be on-site for all practices, training sessions and games.

In partnership with the School District, USF Health is among several programs providing the certified ATs, who will staff all 27 high schools in Hillsborough County. In total, USF Health is providing 11 ATs to the District, who will report to the Department Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

“USF Health and our SMART Institute are thrilled to be a part of this plan to help support Certified Athletic Trainers  at Hillsborough County Schools,” said Renee Dubault, Chief Operating Officer and Associate Executive Director of Business Operations for USF Health. “We felt that, if the schools are going to have coverage, it is important they have full-time coverage.”

High school athletes in Hillsborough County Schools will have Certified Athletic Trainers on the field. 

In the approved plan, the District is spending $10,000 -$270,000 per high school – and three organizations are providing the additional funding that will pay for the 27 ATs. In addition to USF Health, Select Physical Therapy, and PT Solutions Holdings, LLC, are supporting the AT effort for Hillsborough County Schools.

USF Health’s SMART (Sports Medicine & Athletic Related Trauma) Institute  is a sports safety program that uses a multidisciplinary approach with a team of professionals through the use of education, research, and injury care and prevention thereby elevating the standard of care for the youth, recreational, high school, collegiate and professional athlete. In addition to providing ATs to local schools, the program provides on-site coverage for community events, ranging from Florida High School Athletic Association State Tournaments to non-profit fund-raising sporting events. SMART personnel also educate coaches, parents and student athletes in the community on key injury prevention advice on topics such as concussions, heat illness, lightning safety, and sports training programs designed to minimize the incident and severity of injuries.

“Athletic trainers are critical to athlete safety”, said Jen Farrant, MSEd, ATC, administrator in the Department Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in MCOM.

“Athletic trainers offer student-athletes of all ages a safe and successful environment,” said Farrant, who is an athletic trainer. “ATs are often the first to recognize when there is an emergency happening, even a life-threatening situation. If there’s a medical situation, the AT is the first responder. That’s what parents want and that’s what coaches want on their sidelines – someone with the training to handle that responsibility.”

Article by Sarah Worth, USF Health