BACKGROUND: Athletic trainer retention has been topic of concern for 20 years, with one study indicating a drastic decline within ten years of becoming certified. Burnout, life-work balance, role strain, socialization, salary, in addition to other constructs are potential reasons for a lack of retention. An assessment of individuals who have left the athletic training profession is lacking; therefore, the purpose of this study was to discover the reasons why athletic trainers leave the profession of athletic training. DESIGN: Web-based survey. Qualtrics® was used to survey of 1000 individuals who let their athletic training certification lapse within 5 years of the study. SUBJECTS: Of the 198 (response rate=23%) respondents, the majority were female (n=119, 60%), married (n=149, 75%) with children (n= 127, 64%). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The survey included demographic information and 5-point Likert matrices of factors that contribute to retention. The data were analyzed for demographic and factor analysis information. RESULTS: The data suggests that items of burnout including clinical depression, role strain, ethical and social strain, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and decreasing sleep consistently contribute to leaving the athletic training profession (44.8% of variability). Employment factors accounted for 10.5% of the variability with variables such as travel demands, work hours, role overload, staffing, work environment, and lack of administrative support contributing to leaving the profession. Personal characteristics (4.5%) and personal fit (9.7%) also contributed variability in the data. CONCLUSIONS: Retention appears to be driven by some extrinsic (burnout and employment) and some intrinsic (personal characteristics and fit) variables. Additional inquiry into the personal factors for persistence may help to better identify those that are more likely to stay in athletic training.




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