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Abstract

Purpose: Many health care professionals, including athletic trainers, utilize continuing education to maintain their certification or licensure status. Little is known about the perceptions of athletic trainers toward this educational process. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of athletic trainers toward the continuing education process.Method: Data were collected from 2 sources: field notes from 6 focus groups with 43 individuals, and 6 hours of transcribed audiotape recordings from focus groups. Trustworthiness was established through member checks and multiple analyst triangulations. Results: Continuing education is valued and it is believed to advance the profession of athletic training and maintain competence. Engagement in continuing education was generally based on individual learning interest and applicability of the content to their individual work setting. Lastly, athletic trainers feel they are ultimately accountable for honestly engaging in learning activities and reporting continuing education activity. Conclusion:Continuing education is valued by credential holders and is an integral part of what it means to be a professional. It can be effective as long as athletic trainers appropriately select continuing education programs and responsibly engage in learning. Knowledge that is applicable and pertains to individual work duties is perceived as more meaningful. The benefits of effective continuing education are the maintenance of competency, improved self-efficacy, and enhanced professional respect, all of which can have a positive impact on and advance the profession.

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