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Abstract

Purpose: Clinical education has been identified as a key aspect in the professional preparation of athletic trainers. The literature, however, has focused on clinical education at the undergraduate level rather than the graduate level, which is the future population of all CAATE-accredited athletic training programs. This study sought to describe the experiences of those who have completed athletic training clinical education at the master’s level, specifically focusing on the type of learning experiences they were granted and what influence the preceptor and the setting played in the overall experience. Method: This was a phenomenology study. Twelve graduates of CAATE-accredited professional master’s athletic training programs served as participants. All participants graduated after Spring 2014 and completed clinical education as a degree requirement. Three methods of data collection were utilized, including semi-structured interviews, prompted journaling and asynchronous online focus group discussion boards. Data was analyzed using a phenomenological reduction approach. Credibility of the data was confirmed with member checking, peer review and data triangulation. Results: Clinical education was determined to be a significant contributor to professional preparation of professional master’s athletic training students. Hands on-experiences, active preceptors and variety in clinical setting and opportunity were all cited as contributors to the success of clinical education. Participants described their experience as a significant commitment but valuable. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that clinical education should continue to be a requirement at the graduate level and that the clinical education curriculum should be designed to encourage hands-on learning and variety.

Author Bio(s)

Laura Wamsley, EdD, ATC is an Assistant Professor of Athletic Training at Concord University. She also serves as the Clinical Education Coordinator for the Athletic Training Program at Concord University.

Kimberly Brown , DPN, RN, CNE, NEA-BC is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at Radford University.

Jill Nolan, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Concord University. She also serves as the Master's of Arts in Health Promotion Program Coordinator.

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