For the win

New program in Oklahoma connects future DOs, athletic trainers

Oklahoma State University’s athletic training master’s program is the country’s first to be aligned with an osteopathic medical school.


When athletes get hurt, their first line of defense can start with an athletic trainer and, when needed, continue down the field to a physician. Given the complementary hands-on care athletic trainers and DOs provide, officials at Oklahoma State University saw value in connecting students in both disciplines. The university recently moved its athletic training program from its Stillwater campus to the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, where its osteopathic medical school also is located.

The new athletic training master’s degree program is the first in the country to be aligned with an osteopathic medical school. This summer, the master’s students completed their first semester. They worked alongside faculty and students from the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSU-COM), who taught them anatomy and how osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) works.

“Ultimately our goal is for patients to see an osteopathic medical student for OMM, then go across the hall to see an athletic trainer for rehabilitation to create that consistency of care,” explains Jennifer Volberding, PhD, the athletic training program director.

Bryan Gibson, OMS II, who co-instructed an eight-week intensive anatomy course over the summer, hopes to take the collaboration further by creating a joint sports medicine club for OSU’s medical and athletic training students.

“We hope to bring in different speakers, like an athletic trainer and a practicing sports medicine physician, that will be of interest to both subsets of students and help them in their practice of medicine and clinical care,” Gibson says.

Master’s student Erin McMahon says working closer with DOs and osteopathic medical students has enhanced her knowledge of osteopathic medicine. She is also gaining clinical skills that will help her work more closely with physicians when treating athletes.

Graduates of this master’s program will become ambassadors for the osteopathic medical profession on soccer pitches and football fields nationwide, envisions Robin Dyer, DO, the associate dean for academic affairs at OSU-COM.

“When the athletic trainer graduates are asked where they studied, they will mention our school. Since lots of them live outside of Oklahoma, they can go back into their communities and explain osteopathic medicine,” Dr. Dyer says.

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