Lee University Athletic Training, Still Excelling In Transition

Sunday, September 17, 2017 - by Naudia O’Steen, Lee University
From left, Dr. Taz Kicklighter, director of Lee’s AT program, and Dr. DeWayne Knight, medical director for the program
From left, Dr. Taz Kicklighter, director of Lee’s AT program, and Dr. DeWayne Knight, medical director for the program

Lee’s athletic training education program is transitioning from a bachelor’s to a master’s program. 

“Lee’s AT program has had a strong history of placing exceptional professionals into the field of athletic training at various work sites, including traditional high school settings, college athletics, and industrial safety programs,” says Dr. DeWayne Knight, who serves as the program’s physician medical director. “We are looking forward to this transition as an opportunity to reach another level of excellence for our program.” 

The graduate program will begin May 2018 in compliance with a joint decision made by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s, the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, and the Athletic Training Board of Certification to require a minimum of a master’s degree to practice athletic training. 

The decision comes from the requirement that 70 percent of graduates must pass the BOC exam on their first attempt, and with 70 percent of practicing professionals already holding a master’s degree, the AT Strategic Alliance decided to change the minimum professional degree level. 

Over the past three years, Lee University’s AT graduates have maintained a 90 percent rate for passing the BOC exam upon first attempt. 

The program’s newly-named director, Dr. Taz Kicklighter, seeks to continue a tradition of excellence in preparing its students. 

“I’m so proud of the hard work of our students,” Dr. Kicklighter said. “Their success on the BOC exam reflects their desire to provide high quality healthcare. Additionally, I feel we are producing empathetic and caring students who truly see athletic training as a calling, not just a profession.” 

Current juniors and seniors in the bachelor’s program will be allowed to graduate, while freshmen, sophomores, and incoming students will be encouraged to major in exercise science with a pre-athletic training emphasis, which will begin fall 2018.  

The graduate program will be a full-time, two-year program, pending final approval by SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges). It will provide students with an effective blend of information, clinical experiences, and exposure to a variety of practice settings. 

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to continue the legacy of superior athletic training education here at Lee,” said Dr. Kicklighter. “As we move toward the master’s degree, we will be implementing some progressive educational changes which will take our program to a new level and provide our students with an exceptional preparation for professional practice.”   

Dr. Kicklighter came to Lee in 2010 and joined the full-time faculty in 2013. Prior to that, he was the head athletic trainer and an adjunct faculty member in health education sport studies at Reinhardt University.  

He earned his doctor of philosophy degree in athletic training from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, his master’s degree from Georgia State University, and bachelor’s degrees from Carson-Newman College and Kennesaw State University. 

For more information about the AT program, contact Dr. Kicklighter at tkicklighter@leeuniversity.edu or visit http://www.leeuniversity.edu/academics/education/hesse/athletic-training.aspx.
For more information about NATA, visit https://www.nata.org/.

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