Give us the Choice to Challenge the NCE in 2020

Give us the Choice to Challenge the NCE in 2020

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Athletic Therapy Candidates started this petition to Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA)

We, the athletic therapy candidates, petition the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) to announce a date to write our certification examination online or at a testing centre by October 1st, 2020. At present, we received information indicating that the earliest CATA anticipated being able to hold the examination is June 2021.

Each of us has spent years completing the athletic therapy programs in our respective universities, working, and studying tirelessly to be able to finally write the National Certification Exam (NCE) in order to become certified athletic therapists. However, in March 2020, due to the unforeseeable impact of COVID-19 pandemic, all social activities, including in-person studies, ceased. We acknowledge and appreciate the time the board of CATA has taken towards finding a solution for the NCE, which was postponed from its original June 13th, 2020 date. Nonetheless, we, the athletic therapy candidates, take issue with the decision to postpone the NCE to June 2021 and with the requirements of the new Provisional Certification (PC).

There are several reasons for the undersigned to have concerns regarding the CATA’s solution for the NCE. Firstly, the requirements for the Provisional Certification are numerous and will limit eligibility for some certification candidates. Having an offer of employment may prove more difficult under the PC as employers will favor the recruitment of certified athletic therapists. The Provisional Certification is going to interfere with us being recognized as athletic therapy professionals in our field due to a lack of understanding of this new certification status. Ultimately, potential employers will question our competency. Moreover, self-employment will be more arduous under the requirements and restrictions of the PC. Clients will be cautious in seeking treatment from us due to the lack of understanding of our certification status and due to the uncertainty of insurance coverage for the service provided. In addition, obtaining a start-up business loan may no longer be possible as the banks will not understand the PC. The Provisional Certification also requires recruiting the aid of a monitoring certified athletic therapist to read a monthly monitoring log. While we are an extremely supportive athletic therapy community, most certified athletic therapists do not have the extra time to spare within their given schedules, especially with the commencement of sports, sporting events and internships. Ultimately, the requirements of the Provisional Certification will hinder our ability to find employment. As such, we need to get certified properly sooner.

Secondly, we do not agree with the requirement to pay the membership fees of a certified athletic therapist without the benefits and autonomy. The aforementioned limitations of the PC may limit the availability of full time employment for many certification candidates while others may need to pursue employment outside of the athletic therapy profession altogether. As such, this requirement adds a greater financial expense while limiting our ability to earn an income within our field of study.

Thirdly, to have the NCE held in June 2021 puts the graduating athletic therapists of 2020 at a disadvantage. We will be required to prepare for an examination a full year after graduation, a time when many of us will be at different stages in our lives and career paths. Those unable to meet the requirements of the PC will be out of practice in their field of study when time comes to challenge the NCE, while others will turn to other certifications, such as kinesiology or physiotherapy, for employment instead. While it has been argued that completing the examination in a year’s time is challenging yet doable, based on previous experience, ultimately it was a choice. A choice we have not be afforded. Moreover, once we complete the examination in June 2021 we will be entering the workforce alongside a full other graduating class, rendering the field saturated with newly certified athletic therapist competing for the same employment positions.

Lastly, many health professions have already rescheduled their certification examinations for this year, in both in-person and online formats. Other athletic therapy associations such as the ARTI and BOC in the United States have scheduled their examinations for August 2020. In Ontario, the Law Society implemented online delivery of all licensing examinations. In Quebec, nurses are completing their examinations in September 2020. While it has been argued that the transition to the online format may come at the expense of technical difficulties, as experienced by those who completed the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination, it must be taken into account that this was a nine-hour long exam and only 300 out of 1,200 remote tests experienced these difficulties. Contrarily, the NCE is a 3-hour 200 multiple-choice examination to be administered to a few hundred candidates across the country. We believe that if the availability of various locations to hold the examinations, the personnel to cover such an event across the country, and travelling restrictions are the main limiting factors to rescheduling the NCE in person then an online examination is the best solution. We understand that the NCE is a “pen and paper examination” and to transition it to an online format would require time and may come at the risk of technical difficulties, however, we are in an unprecedented time right now which requires modifications to the way the examination has previously been given. There has already been an evolution of the NCE with the recent elimination of the practical component of the exam and the transfer of this responsibility to each athletic therapy program across Canada. Each accredited institution has completed this component virtually in order to allow their students the opportunity to complete their degrees during this global pandemic. To hinder the career path of the recent athletic therapy graduates due to a theoretical multiple-choice examination because it would prove difficult to transition to a different format is unfair. Programs like ProProctor allow students to write their examinations at home, with Prometric Centers available for those who are unable to do this examination at home. Up to this point, we have met all other requirements to become certified athletic therapists, please allow us the opportunity to challenge this examination in an online format. We believe that it is an extremely reasonable option.

We request that by October 1st, 2020, CATA announces an examination date to complete the NCE online or at a testing centre prior to June 2021, with a secondary option for the deferral of their certification exam to June 2021 for those who would prefer to write their exam in-person. Other health professionals have been given the opportunity to challenge their respective certification exams within a respectable timeframe during this global pandemic, we want to be afforded a similar opportunity.

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