Vol 4 No 4
April, 2000
ISSN 1097-9743

The ASEPNewsletter is devoted to informative articles and news itmes about exercise physiology. It is a monthly magazine of news, opinions, exercise physiology professionals, and events that shape exercise physiology. While it contains views and opinions of the Editor who oversees the ASEP Internet Websites, visitors can have a voice as well. We welcome interested practitioners, researchers, and academicians to e-mail the Publisher their thoughts and ideas or respond directly online via the ASEP Public Forum.

May, 2000
From the Editor:
Contemporary Professional Exercise Physiology

Information for EPC Candidates: Guide
[The first "certification" for Exercise Physiologists]

Guess Editorials, Policy, and Call for Papers
Interesting Web Sites: Updated
Journal of Exercise Physiologyonline
Professionalization of Exercise Physiologyonline
Student Chapters

BackStudent Chapters

Interested in starting a Student Chapter at your institution, then contact Dr. Robert Robergs at 505-277-1196 or Dr. Tommy Boone at the ASEP National Office (218-723-6297). The Student Chapter ByLaws and Constitution are on the Internet.  NEWS: Just received the good news that West Virginia University STUDENTS have started an ASEP Student Chapter. CONGRATULATONS

BackJournal of Exercise Physiologyonline

The "first-ever" exercise physiology electronic journal, Be sure to click on the APRIL 2000 issue of JEPonline. Each article can be printed either in HTML or PDF format, and can used in your work or as part of your classroom assignments.  As an author of an article in ASEPNewsletter, JEPonline, or PEPonline, you can list the work in your Resume' and other important documents.  There are no page charges to publish in the three ASEP internet documents.  ASEP meets the costs of publishing your work. What about copyright? Both e-journals and the newsletter are listed with the Library of Congress via their own ISSN numbers (International Standard Serial Number).

BackASEP Membership
Join the WMSWe are an organization of professionals.
To become a member, print the Membership Application and forward it to the ASEP National Office, or call an ASEP representative at (218) 723-6297. Visit additional web sites for more information, click on the ASEP Table of ContentsCurrent weather at the ASEP National Office, Duluth, MN.

BackGuest Editorials 

The ASEPNewsletter is seeking guest editorials -- brief commentaries on a wide variety of issues. Everyone involved in: health, fitness, rehabilitation, sports, including medical, business, management, psychology, teachers, and students -- is welcome to share insights, concerns, points and counterpoints on any issue that impinges upon the exercise physiology profession. Send EDITORIALS  to the Editor: ASEP National Office, c/o Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, FASEP, Department of Exercise Physiology, The College of St. Scholastica, 1200 Kenwood Ave, Duluth, MN 55811

BackProfessionalizationThe Professionalization of Exercise Physiologyonline (PEPonline) journal presents "1" article about professionalism.

BackInteresting Web Sites
Have you run across an interesting exercise physiology site?  If you have and would like it to be posted, please let me know via my email.

Professional Exercise Physiology
Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, FASEP
Professor and Chair
Director of Exercise Physiology Laboratories
Department of Exercise Physiology
College of St. Scholastica
Duluth, MN

“This article is dedicated to all those students who are passionate about exercise physiology, and who are also the hope and future of exercise physiology.”

THE NEW CENTURY IS HERE, and life goes on!  Changes are as constant as before, and exercise physiology is no different than other professions.  The profession isn’t recognized by all exercise physiologists, but the vital part of the process is that it is accepted by those who understand the need for professionalism.  Change brings with it new ideas, and those prepared to work on behalf of the emerging professional are faced with demands more so than their college professors.  Students understand this point extremely well, especially with the emphasis placed on reading research articles.  Yet, they also understand the challenges of getting an exercise physiology job outside of the university system.  Those who have persevered have developed the necessary skills to successfully compete with other professionals.  They understand what it means to be competent, and have taken steps to demonstrate their credibility through different certifications.  Most of these professionals are still not happy with the circumstances before them.  They are concerned about the lack of an academic focus beyond theoretical concepts to realistic inroads into the healthcare system.

The purpose of this article is to present an overview and synthesis of the important issues and trends that are basic to the development of professional exercise physiologists.  Unfortunately, there are few to no courses that cover this material, so this article would be useful for execise physiology students.  Students need to read and think about what it means to be a profession, and the importance of their own professional organization.  What is accountability, and what does professionalism have to do with exercise physiology?  Why haven’t academic exercise physiologists integrated their classroom presentations with the concept of critical thinking and how it might be used in exercise physiology?  What is the “true” history of exercise physiology, and why haven’t the academic exercise physiologists initiated changes in the curriculum before now?  What are the implications for the continuation of exercise physiology if things were to stay as they have been for decades? 

A second purpose of this article is to stimulate the reader’s thinking and, perhaps, improve his/her sense of what is exercise physiology and how it is changing in hope of preparing new professionals.  It is important to express my thanks to the administrators of the College of St. Scholastica who have acknowledged the importance of a professional organization for exercise physiologists and, hence the web site space and support that is dedicated to the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP).  This article, the ASEP presence, and the electronic journals (including the ASEPNewsletter) would never have been presented without their support, encouragement, and understanding of the importance of professionalism.

Since the time of the Harvard Laboratory, where it is said that among a few other places, exercise physiology  emerged, each generation of exercise physiologists, in their own way, has helped to set the stage for professional development.  The development of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) into a multi-group of professionals wasn’t without some struggle.  Much of the work was done by exercise physiologists who were dedicated to the idea that doing research and having a place to present it was important.  This idea has been with most exercise physiologists for decades, and most understand the primary goal of the ACSM’s leadership.  Yet some exercise physiologists, both inside and outside of exerccise physiology, question if sports medicine is right for the professionalization of exercise physiology. 

It is only recently, in the past five years, the question of professionalism has taken on significance and meaning.  The idea of having one’s own organization raised hope that, perhaps, exercise physiologists were not destined to be technicians and/or researchers without belonging to and practicing a profession.  Whether exercise physiology can be viewed as a profession lies with the public.  But, the public is not likely to have a good image of exercise physiologists if they aren’t in agreement on specific criteria that raises what they do above that of an occupation. 

The “catch 22” is that an occupation can’t be considered a profession without the public’s belief that the members of the occupation are in the position of some independence, power, and can earn high incomes.  Here, you can see the problem, that is, if non-academic exercise physiologists continue to earn relatively low incomes, what they do can’t be recognized as being part of a profession.  But, exercise physiologists can’t earn high incomes without the public’s belief that they belong to and practice a profession (such as medicine, law, and politics).  At least with this view, exercise physiology, today, is obviously not a profession.  On the other hand, if a profession is defined by its intellectual level, individual responsibility and accountability, specialized body of knowledge, activities that serve the public, a code of ethics, a strong identity and commitment to professionalism grounded in a well-organized organization that oversees a scope of practice, then, without question, exercise physiology is a profession.

Exercise physiology meets most of the criteria identified by experts who have written about what constitutes a profession.  Obviously, two decades ago exercise physiology could not be identified as a profession.  Most of what was taught was totally outside the control, development, and influence of exercise physiologists.  Today, however, it is different.  There are departments of exercise physiology with comprehensive academic programs.  Most of the programs and the graduates are leaders among the academic programs.  They offer the baccalaureate degree as the entry-level exercise physiologist.  However, until all exercise physiologists are committed to the profession, identify with it as a profession, and dedicate themselves to empowering exercise physiology, achieving professionalism will be difficult to achieve.

But, like all things, few ideas are absolute.  The power to influence is essentially untested when presented via the Internet.  It follows logically that with world-wide exposure, the capacity to influence, teach, and motivate other exercise physiologists holds great rewards.  It is probably the focal point for the source of power from which to influence professional unity, political activities, accountability and professionalism, and networking.  In fact, the development of the Internet has allowed students and faculty to compare academic programs virtually with hands-on sensitivity and analysis.  As might be imagined, they have come to realize these academic degree programs are plagued with problems. 

The obvious problem is the lack of uniformity in course offerings.  Without consistency from one program to the next, it is difficult to know exactly what the graduate is prepared to do.  Whether the graduate has sufficient technical skills is a major concern.  Most of these programs are a hybrid mixture of courses from diverse departments rather than an academic degree in exercise physiology.  This lack of uniformity in curriculum depth and length remains unresolved today, except for the “bachelor of exercise physiology” degree that fulfills the criteria that defines it as a professional degree.  The question that concerns the exercise physiologist with a degree in exercise physiology is whether or not an individual prepared as an exercise physiologist with a degree in kinesiology, human performance, or physical education has enough knowledge to be a professional exercise physiologist.  If the answer is no, then these academic programs need to be renamed or upgraded.  Numerous universities have recognized this problem and the trend is to tailor their programs to meet the academic needs of the students and the profession. 

The ASEP position on the preparation of exercise physiologists is to ensure high-quality exercise physiology professionals by fostering high academic standards.   To achieve the goal of furthering professional advancement, the ASEP took responsibility for establishing the first scope of practice for exercise physiologists.  The educational level of the undergraduate students will also be increased as universities adopt the ASEP Accreditation Guidelines for educational reform.  The rationale for the accreditation document is to stress the importance of an agreed upon set of courses and laboratory experiences that are considered imperative for the development of the profession. 

Imagine what the quality of exercise physiology would be if any one could call him- or herself an “Exercise Physiologist”.  Well, that is exactly the problem that faces the profession.  This situation isn’t good, and for professions that compete for similar types of work within the public sector, their licensure, certification, and organizations help ensure their success.  Exercise physiologists must evolve from yesterday’s thinking to the 21st Century view of reality.  Credentialing for exercise physiologists is imperative.  Without it, there is no way to ensure competency.  Without sound credentials, there is also little reason to expect the public sector to acknowledge exercise physiology as a profession.

Aside from accreditation issues raised for the first time in the history of exercise physiology by the ASEP Board, and soon to be implement by the ASEP Board of Accreditation, there is “certification”.  To be certified as an exercise physiologist is to acknowledge that an individual has achieved a level of ability higher than any one else without the certification.  At the present time, the ASEP Board believes that a certification designed to make the bachelor-prepared exercise physiologist accountable to the profession and the public sector is imperative.  This type of certification will be implemented during the 3rd ASEP Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, NM during the latter weeks in September, 2000.   It will include both a written exam and an applied exam.  Information necessary to sit for the exam can be located at the “Exercise Physiologist Certified” (EPC) web site.  In some cases, the granting of a certification to members of a professional organization is considered a step higher than the requirements for licensure, the EPC exam is expected to have a significant, positive impact on the profession (until some years from now the individual state associations will be in a better position to obtain licensure).  For some time to come, the ASEP certification of exercise physiologists will be the primary method of granting professional credential to demonstrate that an individual is qualified to provide safe and effective instruction and counsel to the public. 

Fortunately, even with the lack of uniformity that exists in exercise science – exercise physiology programs in the United States, exercise physiologists now have a professional organization.  The establishment of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists is the “one” most important defining characteristic of a profession.  The door is now open “with one voice” to represent the beliefs, concerns, and needs of all exercise physiologists.  In numbers there is strength, the power to create, and to make a difference. 

Note: To print a copy of this article, click here.

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