Purpose: Research suggests skill decay occurs with emergency skills, such as supplemental oxygen administration (OA), since the frequency of medical emergencies in clinical settings is low. Identifying the presence and timeline for skill decay allows educators to employ strategies to prevent this occurrence. Therefore, this study evaluated retention of knowledge and clinical skills associated with supplemental oxygen administration, specifically nasal cannula (NC) and non-rebreather mask (NrM) usage in professional athletic training students.

Methods: Cross-sectional study. Twenty-nine athletic training students (males=11, females=18; age=21.03+1.38) enrolled in a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)-accredited professional athletic training programs. Participants’ supplemental oxygen administration knowledge and skills was assessed five times (baseline-T4). The baseline assessment was followed by an educational review session. Participants’ knowledge and skills were re-assessed (T1) and then randomly assigned to two groups. The experimental group’s supplemental oxygen administration knowledge and skills were re-evaluated at 1-month (T2), 3-months (T3), and 6-months (T4). The control at 6-months (T4).

Results: Analysis revealed no significant differences between the groups on knowledge (F2,54=.15, P=.86) and overall clinical skills (F2,54=1.52, P=.23). A significant main effect for time on knowledge (F2,54=65.30, P1.89,50.98=112.55, P1.55,41.88=108.03, P

Conclusions: Both groups retained supplemental oxygen administration knowledge over 6-months. Conversely, nasal cannula and non-rebreather mask skills decayed from review session to 6-month follow-up. Regular rehearsal and practice of acute care clinical skills should be integrated into educational programs to avoid decay of skills. Since these skills are not frequently utilized in the clinical education environment, integrating opportunities to practice these skills to maintain the competence level of students and prepare them for clinical practice is warranted.

Author Bio(s)

David C. Berry, PhD, MHA, AT, ATC is the Professional Athletic Training Program Director and Professor of Kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Services at Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, MI. He is also a licensed athletic trainer in the state of Michigan.

Jennifer K. Popp, EdD, LAT, AT is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Athletic Training Program in the Department of Health & Kinesiology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. She is also a licensed athletic trainer in the state of Indiana.


We thank the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers' Association for partially funding the equipment used in this study.




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