William Woods Athletic Training program transitions to an accelerated master in five program

William Woods University (WWU) has traditionally offered a four-year bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training to students looking to work in a variety of settings in the industry. Now, students who enter WWU as freshmen have a chance to complete their bachelor’s in four years and their Master of Athletic Training in an additional year. Students with a completed bachelor’s degree can also enroll for a traditional two-year program. 

Three students are currently seniors in the undergraduate level of the program as well as starting some of their first master level classes. This year, these students start taking a deeper look into the practice of athletic training. 

“I have a book in my office with about 300 tests we can perform, though only a fraction of them make sense to use,” said Dr. Steve Middleton, professor of Athletic Training. “So that’s what we cover in these upper level classes –  how in this profession, there are certain tests we use over others, and the research and deeper meaning behind those tests.” 

The accelerated program allows students to gain the classroom knowledge they need to enter a job field that presents ever-expanding career opportunities. Athletic Trainers are working with the human body, and scientists’ knowledge of the body is constantly evolving. The higher level of education in the WWU Athletic Training master in five program allows students to keep up with the changing field and adapt in their future careers. 

“Our knowledge of the body is always changing and there are always new skills that we are adding into our scope of work as athletic trainers,” said Dr. Middleton. “For example, we now teach sutures and how to administer an IV to deal with a wider range of injuries.” 

Besides the ability to finish an advanced degree one year faster, The Woods offers students a vast opportunity for hands-on knowledge. 

“We have a variety of clinicals that we get to work on throughout our master program that help us see what kind of setting we want to work in once we graduate, which is an advantage” said Shelby Feltrop. 

“There are three of us in all of the classes and we have similar learning styles, so we can help each other and the professors can also help cater to what we want to do,” said Edgardo Santiago. “We are all very hands-on learners and we get so much opportunity to do that in our classes and really retain the information.” 

“You feel comfortable with your professors and classmates before you get into the master level courses, so you do not need to feel uncomfortable if you need to ask a question on when you are practicing the tests with your peers,” said Tristan Steffens. “I think it helps a lot of be able to listen to a lecture and then head right over to the lab and put it to use right away. You can remember it a lot easier.” 

At William Woods, the small classes allow you to not only have hands-on time in the classroom, but ensure you get to know your professors and classmates. With three students sharing classes and working on the same clinical assignment, they find it easy to work together. 

“You get to know your classmates not just in class, but you get to know them on a personal level and really support each other through the upper level courses and find each other’s strengths,” said Santiago. 

“We really work together as classmates and I would say the faculty, even in bachelor-level classes, werealways very supportive about letting us know we could come into their office if we had any extra questions,” said Steffens. 

Overall, a master degree requires an added level of dedication and work, but provides a broader knowledge and skill base for students to be successful in their professional careers. With a master in five program that includes labs, clinical work and other hands-on experience, WWU students are ready for their careers when they graduate. 

“I enjoy the master level courses because you are getting more specific with just athletic training courses rather than all of exercise science,” said Feltrop. “It was demanding but I think it is very rewarding to focus on the specialty. It also gives us more opportunities once we graduate, like that I could work at the collegiate level with a master degree, whereas I couldn’t do so with just a bachelor degree.” 

For more on the WWU Athletic Training masters in five program, please visit https://www.williamwoods.edu/academics/graduate/master_athletic_training.html