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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that contribute to student persistence and gauge prospective athletic training students' perceptions of experiences that contributed to their persistence. Method: The Athletic Training Student Persistence-Revised Survey was developed to gather data about program attributes, social, academic, clinical integration, and program commitment. Institutional demographics, program demographics, and program attributes were collected during interviews. Surveys were administered online through SurveyMonkey. Survey data were returned anonymously by designated contact persons (Athletic Training Program Directors or Clinical Education Coordinators) for all freshmen prospective athletic training students enrolled in the athletic training introductory course/s. Descriptive statistics and non-parametric differences and correlations were calculated. The inductive process was used in coding open-ended data. Results: The Mann Whitney U test and Spearman Rho analysis demonstrated significant results. Program attributes along with clinical integration had the weakest correlations (r = -0.36 and r = -0.32, respectively), while academic integration and program commitment had the strongest (r = -0.58 and r = -0.76, respectively). No predictive variables were found. Qualitatively, persisters and non-persisters managed the pre-application period differently. Additionally, the rapport between athletes and athletic trainers serving as preceptors, the relationships between prospective athletic training students and extant athletic training students, and the mentorship displayed by athletic training students were all contributors to persistence. Conclusions: Communication between the athletic training program director and prospective athletic training students is vital, but the core of the study revealed that what transpires during clinical observation hours, within the introductory course/s, between athletic trainers and athletes, and between athletic training students/preceptors and prospective athletic training students are of even greater importance. The findings demonstrated that decisions to persist are the result of all parties and components associated with the athletic training program, not just one.

Author Bio(s)

Heather Hudson, EdD, LAT, ATC, is a Clinical Associate Professor of Athletic Training at Baylor University.

Valerie Herzog, EdD, LAT, ATC, serves as the Graduate Athletic Training Program Director and Director of the Office of Graduate Studies at Weber State University. She is currently a Commissioner for the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

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