Sep 13, 2018
At Home and Abroad
Amber Giacomazzi

Like many people, I have the desire to explore new places. At a young age, I fell in love with Canada. The culture, the environment, and the people always gave me a sense of belonging. Not to mention with my love of hockey, and experience working it, I fit right in.

While I was completing my bachelor’s degree at Fresno State University, the NATA and Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) formed a mutual agreement. That was when I decided to set another goal for myself: to pass the CATA exam upon completing my master’s degree.

Currently, there is a mutual agreement between the CATA, BOC, and Athletic Therapy Rehabilitation Ireland (ARTI). This agreement allows members from all three organizations to sit for each other’s certification exams, therefore possibly allowing employment in another country. An individual certified by the BOC who is interested in sitting for the CATA exam has several steps to take before challenging the exam. Those include:

  • Apply for Temporary International Membership.
  • Be certified by, and in good standing with, the BOC.
  • Be certified as a First Responder (or equivalent) that’s approved by the CATA.
  • Once becoming a member of the CATA, you have one year to attempt the exam. If the exam needs to be retaken, you have up to two years to reattempt.

Having dual credentials has great value for those wanting to be involved at an international level. As a certified international member, I have the ability to vote, as well as participate on various committees, in the CATA.

When attempting this exam, I ran into many hurdles, and the process was anything but easy. My first big hurdle was the First Responder certification. The CATA has a list of courses that have been approved equivalent as a First Responder, which are listed in their exam handbook. When I became a CATA member, I was living in California. I called and reached out to every organization on the CATA’s First Responder list, and either they no longer offered the course, or there wasn’t one offered on the West Coast. When I would reach out for answers, they were left unanswered. I did not feel financially it was worth it to fly to Canada to take a course. In my current situation living in Michigan, it would have been easier.

Luckily, I have many friends who are firefighters in California who have connections, and I was able to take a course from someone who was a certified instructor. On a positive note, once an individual becomes CATA certified, a regular first aid/CPR certification is sufficient. However, some employers in Canada may require current First Responder certification.

A recent change that has occurred with the CATA exam is the removal of the practical portion, effective June 2018. Previously, the exam took place over two consecutive days. The first day was designated for the written exam. The second day consisted of the practical portion, which was divided into clinic and field portions. Each section then was divided into subsections.

Since becoming certified in Canada, I have discovered that there are only a small handful of international dual certified individuals. Of those few, only a couple are Americans. Most are Canadians who come to the U.S. for college, become certified in the U.S., and then go back to Canada to practice. Therefore, for an American who wants to work in Canada, they would need a visa in order to work.

Having dual credentials has great value for those wanting to be involved at an international level. As a certified international member, I have the ability to vote, as well as participate on various committees, in the CATA. I am fortunate to serve on the CATA Ethics committee and look forward to someday serving on a NATA committee.

While I may no longer be seeking employment in Canada, I feel great pride giving back to the profession by being active in both the NATA and the CATA. The opportunity of being dual credentialed also proves of value for individuals who want to venture internationally for higher education. Individuals have the comfort of knowing they can seek employment after returning home.

Image by Jon Candy.

Amber Giacomazzi, MS, AT, ATC, CAT(C), is an Assistant Professor in the Health and Human Performance Department and Athletic Training Program at Concordia University Ann Arbor. She is one of only a handful of athletic trainers certified by the professional groups of two countries -- NATA in the United States and the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association.


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