Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Movement Sciences


Human Movement Sciences

Committee Director

Bonnie L. Van Lunen

Committee Member

Johanna M. Hoch

Committee Member

Matthew C. Hoch

Committee Member

Sarah A. Manspeaker


The professional education of athletic trainers will continue to evolve as the needs of the profession, and the healthcare system, change. In current educational practices the educational preparation of an athletic trainer can take place at the undergraduate or post-baccalaureate level. Additionally, there are no universally applicable outcome measures for comparison of student performance in the clinical education portion of existing curriculums.

The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the existing education practices, especially relevant to clinical education, currently in place for athletic training (AT) at the professional level. The purpose of the literature review was to historically examine, in a qualitative content analysis, the accreditation Standards and their impact on the changing landscape of education of athletic trainers. The purposes of these studies were to examine current educational practices, both at the level of the degree, as well as in selection of clinical education experiences, to determine its impact on students and the profession, and to examine attainment and perception of competency by students, utilizing the Core Competencies, within clinical education in athletic training education.

The results of the qualitative content analysis suggest that the accreditation Standards reflect the goals and mission of the accrediting body at the time, and the direction of AT education can be ascertained by examining such documents. In Project I it was determined that the potential transition of appropriate professional degree for athletic training could result in a loss of some AT programs, and may cause additional strain on faculty due to the loss of positions and graduate assistantships. This transition also could result in an increase of available positions for qualified personnel, and as post-baccalaureate programs perform better in universal outcome measures, could have a positive impact on the profession. In Project II it was evident that Clinical Education Coordinators (CECs) are influenced by the requirements of the accreditation Standards when selecting placements for their students. Additionally, CECs consider the best interests of the student, requests by the students, and challenges based on curricular structure or geographical location. Project IIIA determined that AT students are most likely to implement Core Competencies in experiences with a high patient volume, and when they are able to assist their Preceptor with patient encounters. Project IIIB conversely indicated that there are not changes in the perceived level of improvement in Core Competencies following an experience with high patient volume. Students do note greater perceived improvement in some Core Competencies with a more engaged role during patient encounters, and at certain clinical site types. The results of these studies expose the need for clinical education to be better evaluated, regardless of professional degree level, on the volume of patients and the role of the student during patient encounters, as opposed to the currently common practice method of evaluating clinical hours. Additionally the accreditation Standards should be written to encourage the incorporation of this type of outcome measure relative to clinical education.


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