Purpose: Continuing education (CE) is intended to promote continued competence beyond the level required for entry-level practice. Previous research suggests that athletic trainers are unable to identify their knowledge gaps regarding their clinical practice. The purpose of this research study was to determine if athletic trainers’ perceived need for CE aligns with their performance on an actual knowledge assessment. Method: We used a correlational design conducted on Qualtrics, a web-based platform. Four hundred, forty-four (444) athletic trainers completed all the CE Needs Assessment and over 60% of the athletic training assessment of knowledge. The CE Needs Assessment determined participant’s perceived need for CE using a 5-point Likert scale on the 8 content areas within the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s educational competencies. The athletic training assessment of knowledge included 71 multiple-choice questions across the 5 domains of athletic training. Actual knowledge for each domain was determined by calculating the percent of correct answers within the domain. We used a Pearson’s correlation analysis to determine the relationship between perceived need for CE and actual knowledge for each domain. Results: We identified a poor, negative, significant correlation between orthopedic clinical assessment and diagnosis (r=-0.10, P=0.034) and domain 2 (clinical evaluation and diagnosis) total score. We also identified a poor, negative significant correlation between therapeutic interventions (r=-0.10, P=0.04) and domain 4 (treatment and rehabilitation). We identified non-significant correlations between perceived need for CE in evidence-based practice, prevention and health promotion, acute care of injury and illness, psychosocial strategies and referral, healthcare administration, and professional development and responsibility and their respective domain total scores. Conclusions: Athletic trainers are unable to consistently identify their need for CE in relation to their actual knowledge performance. This suggests that perceived need is not an effective means to identify areas of weakness in athletic training clinical practice and should not be used to guide CE choices.

Author Bio(s)

Jessica R. Edler is an Assistant Professor and the Clinical Education Coordinator of the Professional Masters Athletic Training program at Grand View University in Des Moines, IA She is also a licensed athletic trainer in the state of Iowa.

Lindsey E. Eberman is a Professor and the Program Director of the Post-Professional Doctor of Athletic Training program in the College of Health and Human Services at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN. She is also a licensed athletic trainer in the state of Indiana.




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