Socialization Experiences of Athletic Training Preceptors

Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Athletic Training Education Journal








Context: Preceptors serve to model behaviors for athletic training students (ATSs) and provide meaningful practical experiences. Preceptor development in athletic training has been described as both formal and informal training. Whereas regular and ongoing formal preceptor training is common and an expectation of accreditation, informal training may also be occurring but less is known about its impact.

Objective: Determine the socialization experiences influencing the role of being a preceptor.

Design: Qualitative.

Setting: Focus group.

Patient or Participants: Inclusion criteria were met if candidates were currently or had been previously a preceptor, whereas exclusion criteria were met if candidates had no previous or current preceptor experience. Participants (age=32 6 9 years, clinical-practice experience = 10 6 8 years, preceptorship experience = 7 6 4 years) were predominantly women (72.2%, n = 13/18), held a master's degree (77%, n = 14/18), and were educated and eligible for certification through an accredited bachelors program (88%, n = 16/18).

Main Outcome Measure(s): A total of 18 individuals participated in 7 focus groups, with 1 focus group excluded for minimal attendance. A 2-member data-analysis team coded focus group transcripts using the phenomenological approach; data were organized into themes and subthemes. Results: Preceptors discussed their formal training as programmatic responsibilities (Theme 1) while striving to create an ideal culture and environment (Theme 2) for student learning. The perceived preparedness theme (Theme 3) represented a lack of preparation and how preceptors worked to develop what they did not know. Last, preceptors described how they aimed to continue to improve their ability as preceptors (Theme 4).

Conclusions: Participants focused on incorporating behaviors modeled for them previously as well as peer feedback to work toward the development of an ideal learning culture for ATSs. Although informal socialization to the role of preceptor is important, it is also irregular; formal pedagogical instruction and development may prove more beneficial.


© National Athletic Trainers' Association

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0000-0003-3171-9141 (Cavallario)

Original Publication Citation

Hyland, D., Cavallario, J., Neil, E. R., Laursen, M., & Eberman, L. E. (2020). Socialization experiences of athletic training preceptors. Athletic Training Education Journal 15(2), 102-112. https://doi.org/10.4085/1947-380X-19-060