Students who came to Gannon University with hopes of becoming an athletic trainer can now rest easy knowing they will be able to graduate from an accredited program.
The department of sport and exercise science at Gannon was awarded accreditation for a master’s program in athletic training, following an unblemished site visit in January by the Commission on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education (CAATE).
The program received the maximum period of accreditation, which is five years.
Prior to receiving this accreditation, the department of sport and exercise science had been enrolling students into a non-accredited athletic training program since fall 2014.
Gannon assured students that the athletic training program would earn its accreditation after the necessary steps required by CAATE were met.
Gannon, in particular, was found to have no areas of non-compliance in any of the standards, which ranged from administrative processes, faculty resources, student resources, student learning outcomes and their assessments.
Initially, the university conducted a yearlong self-study that evaluated 109 standards encompassing faculty support, curriculum design and other areas.
Following that, two site visitors came to review policies and procedures.
Gannon is now one of only three schools in Pennsylvania to be recognized by CAATE for having a professional and accredited master’s program for Athletic Training and the only school in the western part of the state.
The department of sport and exercise science will now also offer an accelerated post-bachelor option.
This allows students in the department to graduate in five years, in addition to receiving their master’s in athletic training and becoming eligible for the Board of Certification Exam (BOC).
The BOC exam is required for anyone who wants to become an athletic trainer.
“Students now have assurance they will be eligible for their national BOC exam,” Rebecca Mokris, the assistant professor of sport and exercise science and director of the athletic training program said.
“[This] places Gannon University in a prime position to offer exceptional learning experiences at a level consistent with the strategic vision of the professional field,” Mokris said.
Mokris, who holds a doctorate degree in education, also said this is a big step for the athletic training program at Gannon and it sets up those involved in this field of study for a bright future.
Allison Nolan, a student in the master’s program, said she is relieved that the accreditation finally came through.
“Its very exciting that we got accredited but it was slightly stressful because it was down to the wire for us second years,” Nolan said.
Nolan also said if the program wasn’t accredited, she wouldn’t be able to get certified as an athletic trainer.
“I would just have had a very expensive piece of paper hanging on my wall and not be able to use my degree,” Nolan said.
“But we passed with flying colors so we didn’t really have any doubt that we weren’t going to get accredited.”