Purpose: Health care professionals may earn specialty certifications to recognize their advanced knowledge and skills. Athletic training has implemented specialties; however, it is unclear what athletic trainers (ATs) know and perceive about specialty certifications. We developed a survey to examine the following issues: (1) analyze what ATs know about specialty certifications; (2) rank the rewards and barriers ATs perceive to be associated with earning/pursuing specialty certifications; and (3) examine differences in these findings based on ATs state practice acts being more restrictive or less restrictive. Method: We utilized a nonequivalent group, cross-sectional survey design and collected data for one month using an online survey and e-mail recruitment process. We validated our instrument using the content validity index. We utilized qualitative data analysis techniques to group states as having more restrictive practice acts and less restrictive practice acts. Using a single stage cluster sampling process, we selected 3 more-restrictive states and 3 less-restrictive states and sent recruitment emails to 4,503 potential participants in these 6 states. We received 342 responses for a 7.6% response rate and an 87% completion rate. Results: Our analysis demonstrated practicing ATs have limited knowledge about specialty certifications. The differences in state practice act restrictions did not affect the perceived rewards or barriers for specialty certifications; however, the participants reported statistically significant differences in their agreement about the intrinsic rewards, barriers, and extrinsic rewards, respectively. Conclusions: ATs have limited knowledge about specialty certifications, and the level of state practice act restriction did not influence perceptions about their potential rewards and barriers. Participants ranked the proposed intrinsic rewards for earning a specialty certification highest, and the potential barriers for earning these credentials second highest. Participants perceived the potential extrinsic rewards of these credentials lowest.

Author Bio(s)

Michael B. Hudson, PhD, LAT, ATC, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health and Sports Medicine at Missouri State University. He is a licensed athletic trainer in the state of Missouri.

Eva M. Frank, PhD, LAT, ATC, is an Assistant Professor in Athletic Training at Lebanon Valley College. She is a licensed athletic trainer in the state of Pennsylvania.

Taylor Harper, MSAT, ATC is a student at The University of Arkansas for Medical Science in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She is studying to receive her clinical doctorate in physical therapy.

Lyndsey M. Comer, MSAT, LAT, ATC, is the Head Athletic Trainer at Ash Grove High School through Cox Health. She is a licensed athletic trainer in the state of Missouri.

Kelsey LaMont, MSAT, LAT, ATC is an athletic trainer at Seattle University who oversees the women's volleyball and softball teams. She is a licensed athletic trainer in the State of Washington.


We would like to acknowledge and thank the Board of Certification, Inc. for assisting us with recruitment emails and consulting with us about athletic trainer/athletic training state practice acts.





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