Northern Michigan University's School of Health and Human Performance will celebrate the first graduates of its new Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program on Saturday. Four students have completed the requirements of the inaugural “3+2” program. They will earn both a bachelor's degree in sports science and an MSAT—176 credits in all—and be among all graduates honored during NMU's virtual commencement.
“Several years ago, when the profession of athletic training (AT) made the decision that the new requirement for entry into the field would be an earned master's degree from an accredited program, Northern jumped on board and began work to transition its very successful undergraduate AT program to the master's level,” said Julie Rochester, professor and graduate program director of AT education. “We welcomed our first master's cohort in the summer of 2019.”
As a part of the program, each of the graduating students has completed extensive training in the following: injury management and assessment; therapeutic interventions and rehabilitation; research and evidence-based practice approaches in sports medicine; and healthcare administration.
In addition to three semesters of clinical education, each completed an immersive internship in the final semester, which required a minimum of 450 hours of supervised clinical practice under the supervision of an athletic trainer preceptor.
“We are extremely proud of how each of these students persevered and adapted to the many modifications that needed to be put into place during the pandemic,” Rochester added. “They have made NMU proud and we wish each of them all the best as they get ready to sit for their national board exam in athletic training and move into their chosen profession.”
The first MSAT cohort includes Joel Mewbourn of Houghton, Aly Possanza of Iron River, Alex Rice of Green Bay, Wis., and McKenzie Shelby of Lake in the Hills, Ill.
“My most enjoyable experience while in the master's program was my immersive internship,” said Mewbourn. “It was a great experience to take everything I have learned and put it into practice. My supervising athletic trainers allowed me to work independently and challenge myself to improve my skills and knowledge. Following graduation, I will be moving down to Houston, Texas, to look for an athletic training job in a high school or collegiate setting.”
“I am so grateful for all of the experiences and opportunities I have had at NMU,” Shelby said. “One of my favorite experiences, by far, has been my internship in the Berry Events Center with NMU's hockey and volleyball teams. I have learned and grown so much from this experience and I have made many incredible relationships with my athletes and preceptors.”
Rice said his highlights included working with the NMU hockey Wildcats and learning from each of his AT preceptors. He plans to work for a high school or college in the Green Bay area.
Possanza said she appreciated the opportunity to glean knowledge from AT professionals and meeting athletes who allowed her to practice the skills she needed to master. After taking her board exam, she said she hopes to work locally at UP Rehab Services.
Learn more about the MSAT program here. Rochester can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.