Hope College has become only the fourth institution in the state of Michigan to have its athletic training program receive accreditation, and is the first private liberal arts college in the state to do so.

          The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health
  Education Programs (CAAHEP) has awarded the new program
  accreditation for five years, the maximum period allowed.
  The accreditation became effective in April.
          Athletic trainers are allied health care
  professionals who prevent, manage and rehabilitate injuries
  in physically active populations.
          Approximately 90 colleges and universities
  nationwide have received accreditation for their athletic
  training programs.  The other three institutions in Michigan
  to hold accreditation are Central Michigan University,
  Eastern Michigan University and Grand Valley State
          According to Dr. Richard Ray, who is coordinator
  of the athletic training education program and an associate
  professor of kinesiology at Hope, the accreditation is
  crucial given changes coming soon in athletic trainer
          "Starting in 2004, only graduates of accredited
  programs will be eligible for certification," he said.  "So
  it was necessary for us if we are going to stay in this
  business to develop an accredited program."
          The method being phased out is the one followed by
  Hope prior to creating its
  current program, and still widely-used elsewhere:  allowing
  students to participate in a clearly-outlined internship
  experience.  According to Ray, each year about 600
  institutions are producing candidates for certification--
  approval to work in the field by the National Athletic
  Trainers' Association (NATA).
          He feels it likely that the stringent requirements
  for accreditation--CAAHEP defines 49 standards that programs
  should meet--will limit the number of programs able to
  produce athletic trainers.
          "Which is good for the profession," he said.
  "Because it means that when you hire an athletic trainer,
  you know what you're getting.  You know the skills that they
  have and what they can do, and that hasn't always been
          Another likely result, Ray noted, is that the
  certified programs will experience increased demand, since
  some 5,000 students nationwide seek certification each year
  but will have fewer options from which to choose.
          Athletic training is one of three majors offered
  through the college's department of kinesiology (the others
  are exercise science and physical education).
          The major consists of 48 credit hours in a variety
  of disciplines, out of the 126 hours all Hope students must
  complete to graduate.  As was also true through the
  internship program, the athletic training students must also
  complete at least 1,500 hours of clinical work under the
  supervision of a certified athletic trainer.  To obtain
  certification, they must subsequently pass a three-part NATA
          Students must apply to participate in the major,
  with the number of slots limited by the field placements
  available.  There were 20 enrolled during 1997-98, and eight
  freshmen are coming in with the new school year.
          The program produced its first three graduates in
  May:  Tonia Bruins of Zeeland, Kelly Gilroy of Lansing and
  Lisa Jutte of Clayton, Ohio.