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Abstract

Context: Mentoring relationships are commonly thought to promote the learning of a professional role. Mentors can perform a variety of roles and possess many different personal characteristics, but there is limited literature related to athletic training students’ perceptions of effective mentoring roles and characteristics. Objective: To explore who athletic training students identify as a mentor and describe the students’ perceptions of the mentoring role and personal characteristics. Design: An online survey was used to collect students’ perceptions. Setting: The study was initiated from a large mid-western university and included a national sample of athletic training students with published e-mail addresses. Participants: Student members of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) with a published electronic-mail address (N=3285) were surveyed and a total of 807 students accessed the online survey for a return rate of 24.56%. Main Outcome Measure(s): Likert scale survey items measured the extent to which students agreed with the questions; descriptive statistics, specifically frequencies, means and standard deviations, were used in the analysis.Results: The majority of students identified a current practitioner as their mentor. Role modeling, communication, feedback, encouragement, listening, providing advice, support and challenges were roles associated with effective mentoring. Students generally disagreed that similar ethnicity and gender were important personal characteristics in a mentoring relationship. Conclusions: Practitioners play a key role in mentoring athletic training students; though the mentoring role of practitioners is multidimensional. The effectiveness of a mentoring relationship can likely be improved by provided consistent availability and contact, by caring about a student's development, and by taking adequate time to communicate effectively. While doing this, athletic training practitioners should be cognizant that athletic training students do not necessarily value the mentoring roles of providing tutoring, friendship, confrontation, information delivery and problem solving assistance in comparison to the other mentoring roles evaluated. Furthermore, the focus should be on the development of a professional and nurturing relationship that is not overly confrontational but is challenging

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