Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Athletic Training








Context: The graduate-assistant position can be a highly influential experience because it is often the first time novice athletic trainers (ATs) are practicing autonomously.

Objective: To gain an understanding of how graduate-assistant ATs (GAATs) perceive professional socialization and mentorship during their assistantships.

Design: Semistructured phone interviews. Setting: Graduate-assistant ATs in various clinical settings.

Patients or Other Participants: Twenty-five GAATs (20 women, 5 men) studying in 1 of 3 academic tracks (postprofessional athletic training = 8, athletic training-based curriculum = 11, non-athletic training-based curriculum = 6). Median age was 24 years.

Data Collection and Analysis: Phone interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis used principles of the general inductive approach. Credibility was maintained using peer review, field notes, and intercoder reliability.

Results: Participants identified peer support throughout their experiences, in both academic and clinical settings. The GAATs frequently relied on other GAATs for support due to shared experiences and understanding of workloads. Participants described difficulty receiving supervisor support from fulltime staff ATs due to the supervisors' workload and time constraints, limiting their availability for mentoring. Guidance from academic support personnel occurred only in athletic training-centered academic programs. Communication emerged as helpful for incoming GAATs; the previous GAATs provided formal mentorship via job descriptions highlighting role responsibilities and expectations. Differences between assistantship types were noted only in terms of receiving balanced mentorship between the academic and clinical staffs, such that students studying in postprofessional athletic training programs perceived more balanced support.

Conclusions: Our results confirm the literature regarding the GAAT's pursuit of continued formal mentoring. The GAATs perceived less support from full-time AT staff members due to limited availability. Therefore, GAATs leaned on their peers for support during the graduate experience.


"Journal of Athletic Training and The Athletic Training Education Journal are both open access journals. Consistent with the Budapest open access initiative (BOAI), all articles are free for users to access, read, download, and print. Information can be used providing that the source is appropriately acknowledged and/or referenced. An institution may post an author's manuscript in a digital repository. Any other posting on servers or replication of any content can be done only after obtaining permission from the NATA's publication office."

Original Publication Citation

Mazerolle, S. M., Clines, S., Eason, C. M., & Pitney, W. A. (2015). Perceptions of support networks during the graduate-assistant athletic trainer experience. J Athl Train, 50(12), 1256-1266. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-50.11.09