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Abstract

Purpose: College students are at a risk for increased levels of stress and burnout, and those enrolled in healthcare degree programs are more likely to experience higher levels due to balancing demanding roles. Our purpose was to assess sources of stress, burnout, and/or frustration in athletic training students (ATSs) of different academic standings. Methods: Data were collected through the use of an original, 33-question questionnaire. An inductive approach was used to analyze the data and multiple analyst triangulation and interpretive member checks were used to secure credibility. Results: 27 male and female ATSs from freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes from one institution voluntarily participated within this study. We were able to identify distinct themes of stress and burnout for each class of ATSs. Freshman reported concern for the time demand from the major and a desire to have more hands-on activity involved with their clinical education experiences. The sophomores reported feeling stressed regarding the expectation to retain information and the expectations to perform hands-on duties, as well as their ability to balance academic and clinical responsibilities. Challenging coursework, pressure during clinical experiences, and social conflicts appeared as themes for the junior ATSs. Finally, the seniors stated a fear of not achieving professional proficiency was a source of frustration. Conclusions and Recommendations: Based on our findings, efforts should be made to assist student time management practices, improve communication between preceptors and students, and make expectations of the athletic training program (ATP) faculty and preceptors clear. Such measures could help influence other positive changes within ATPs to improve the learning environment for ATSs.

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