New SC law will require athletic trainers be licensed

Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 7:08 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2023 at 9:25 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - In recent months, there have been some scary moments with medical emergencies at sporting events, like when Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills went into cardiac arrest in the middle of a game in January.

In these cases, athletic trainers have rushed in and saved lives, and they are also on the sidelines for practices and games all across South Carolina.

A new South Carolina law will better support the people who ensure safety on the field and court.

The “Athletic Trainers Act” requires athletic trainers in South Carolina to be licensed, making this the 47th state in the country with this requirement in place.

“What that does is allow for athletic trainers in the state to practice at the extent of their skillset, so the things that they’ve been learning and can do, they’re able to provide that to their patients, and also, it allows for a higher regulation for patient safety,” South Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association President Amy Fraley said.

The approximately 1,000 athletic trainers in South Carolina are the people you might see on the sidelines of athletic events, but they also work across the state’s military installations and at industrial facilities.

Before the new law was enacted, they had to be certified in South Carolina, but the state did not have a licensure requirement.

The South Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association advocated for this new law, saying it will not change the education, training, and qualifications they need to have for this job but instead how the state regulates them, moving that authority from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

“When a patient is working with an athletic trainer, they can feel confident that athletic trainer has received that level of education and has passed a board of certification of exam and is able to provide that level of healthcare that they’re receiving,” Fraley, a faculty member with the University of South Carolina’s athletic trainer program, said.

Sen. Katrina Shealy, R – Lexington and the lead sponsor of the legislation, said she aligned with how this new law will help support those who keep kids and teens safe.

“We want our athletic trainers to all have the correct license. We want to know that they’re taking care of our kids. I know with my grandsons — I have a grandson that plays high school football. I want to know that somebody’s trained and has the right license,” Shealy said.

The new licensure requirement will go into effect once new regulations are in place, a process Fraley said could take around a year to develop.

The State Board of Medical Examiners is scheduled to meet Monday to get that process started.

Athletic trainers holding current, unexpired certifications remain certified under the new law, according to DHEC, which previously oversaw this regulation.