As chair of the YPC in District 6, I often hear the cry from the general public that NATA doesn’t do enough for our profession. My reply always is, “Well, what do you want from them? What do you think they should be doing?” Half the time this question is met with a glassy stare and a few vapid blinks. The other half of the time it’s something along the lines of “they should be passing laws to make us have better salaries and better work conditions!”
So let me start there. The NATA is not a union and they are not there to regulate salary for us. I’m not sure I’d want them to. I’m not sure if a blanket salary would be beneficial or feasible. An athletic trainer working in Los Angeles certainly needs a bigger salary to meet cost of living than one in rural Texas. NOR do we want the NATA mandating our working conditions. What works in one high school may not work in one college. With that being said, the NATA is there to help give each athletic trainer the tools necessary for each of these hypothetical ATs to get the best situation they can.
In 2013, only 494 NATA members contributed to NATAPAC. That is less that 1% of our professional organization. This is a huge problem. For all those that say NATA should be changing laws and demanding better working conditions, I’m sorry to inform you, you have the wrong organization in mind. The NATAPAC is the one that can get the ball rolling on those things.
The NATAPAC enables employees or members of groups, like the NATA, to pool their resources and make political contributions to candidates that support issues related to the group. Monies have to be given to the PAC by individuals in the group, and cannot be given by the group themselves. Meaning NATA cannot give support to politicians who support third party reimbursement for ATs (support = MONEY!), the individuals within the group (US!) must do it. You know? All that checks and balances stuff we learned about once upon a time…
The PAC does the hard work for us. They find the politicians on both sides of the political poles that support what athletic trainers do and what they are capable of doing, and then work with those to formulate those laws that protect athletic trainer’s wants and needs. A small gift by you to the NATAPAC would help accomplished a lot of the goals that our general public thinks that NATA should be doing for us. If nothing, the NATAPAC breakfast held every year at the annual symposium is a great opportunity for networking, socializing, and fundraising for the profession. I’ve attended for several years and it has always been worth the early wake up time.
And while contributions to the NATAPAC (or any other PAC for that matter!) are not tax write-offs, contributions to the NATA Foundation are. So, in this tax season, if you are looking to beef up your deductions, please consider the Foundation. The NATA Foundation works to give scholarships and grants to researchers within the profession. One reason that ATs struggle to make footing with our professional peers is that our research pool is fairly limited. Sure, there is tons of research taking place in sports medicine, but it is not being done by athletic trainers. That is a very important distinction and certainly one that will help us create a better image of the profession.
For more information on both organizations, visit: