Main Content:
Julia Massimini (pictured front row, center) and her athletic training class

Julia Massimini (pictured front row, center) and her athletic training class

When I came to the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 2020 I had plans to go into sports medicine. “Sports medicine” is an umbrella term with many different specialties under it, such as athletic training, physical therapy, and sports physicians—really it describes any clinician treating athletes. When planning my classes for the second semester of my first year, I saw a course called Basic Athletic Training that looked interesting, but unfortunately, I had a conflict. When it came time to schedule courses for my third term at Pitt, I knew I had to take it. Through the course, I quickly fell in love with athletic training. The idea of being on the first response side of the injury and working with the athlete throughout the entire rehabilitation process is what drew me into athletic training instead of another specialty, like physical therapy.  

The Basic Athletic Training class was my first experience in a hands-on learning environment, which allowed me to stay focused and engaged on the course material, while being able to get feedback on my skills that we had learned. During the class, I learned basic anatomy and what an athletic trainer does as a professional. Athletic trainers function as members of a health care team that specialize in preventing, recognizing, managing and rehabilitating injuries. Because athletic trainers immediately respond to injuries, all students in Athletic Training at Pitt are required to obtain their Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification before starting the program. The Emergency Medicine program offers a 4-credit EMT course for one semester, or students can complete the training elsewhere as long as it is completed by the end of sophomore year. The Basic Athletic Training and EMT courses have been the most interesting classes for me.

The Athletic Training program at Pitt has the option for an accelerated master’s program, which I am pursuing. The entire MS in Athletic Training degree at the University of Pittsburgh can be completed in five years. It adds one year to the undergraduate program rather than two years of master’s work. Students begin the program in their junior year and are considered pre-professional students. After the pre-professional year, students take two years of graduate-level coursework in what is termed their “professional phase.” I am currently in my pre-professional year taking classes that build up the general foundational knowledge I need to be an athletic training student: Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Foundations of Evaluation and Treatment, Introduction to Clinical Athletic Training, Medical Ethics, Medical Terminology, and Introduction to Human Nutrition. While these classes are challenging, I have really enjoyed the content and the professors I have encountered.

Massimini (right) and classmate in their Pitt Athletic Trainer uniforms

Although this year I am not directly working with athletes, I am preparing to work with them next year as a senior. Next fall will be the start of the professional phase with both classes and clinicals. For clinicals, athletic training students are assigned to different locations across the Pittsburgh area, whether it be a high school, a college/college team, a professional team, or a clinic. During the last semester of my fifth year, I will start the term with a clinically immersive experience. This means that we won’t be taking any classes during the first part of the semester and we will be completely immersed in our clinical rotation during that time. I am excited to be assigned to a clinical site, where I can get the experience of working first-hand with athletes!

Massimini (left) and classmates

Massimini (left) and classmates

Being in this program has taught me a lot about myself and about others. Not only are the courses interesting, but all the professors are looking out for you. The Athletic Training program has become a family to me. Making the decision to take the Basic Athletic Training course was the best choice I have made that helped lead me to my future career.


Written by Julia Massimini
Current SHRS Athletic Training, Accelerated Master’s Student




Published December 8, 2022

Updated December 12, 2022