Professional involvement: Requirements as students and trends following certification
Lancaster, Jennifer Nicole
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The field of athletic training needs young engaged professionals to help continue the progress being made in allied healthcare. Requirements for students during their entry-level education could potentially impact the decisions and directions these students choose to pursue as young professionals. By recognizing and understanding this possible influence, athletic training education programs (ATEP) can better construct their curriculum requirements or opportunities to significantly impact the development of students within their institutions. The potential outcome would be producing athletic training graduates who are more actively engaged within the profession. The purpose of this study was to determine the difference in professional involvement of athletic trainers based upon their participation in professional activities while completing their entry-level ATEP. The sample consisted of 120 Certified Athletic Trainers (ATC) and 91 Program Directors (PD) from across the United States who completed on-line surveys. All ATC participants graduated within the 2004–2005 academic year and obtained certification within 2005 testing year. Based on the results of this study, neither requiring nor participating as a student in the professional activities of research, organization memberships, and mentoring by a healthcare professional had little influence on participation in these activities within the first 5 years as a professional. However, student participation in community service and mentoring other students did influence participation in these activities as a professional. Additionally, students submitting proposals for presentations (both required and participation in) influences submission of proposals as professionals. The perceptions of PDs varied, but more than half agree that student participation in at least 2 professional activities will lead to more active professionals upon graduation. It is up to each ATEP to implement methods that best envelope students in real-world, applicable experiences. This experiential learning can ultimately influence (without technically requiring) students to develop the skills and attitudes, which builds graduates' interests and desires to be actively engaged as professionals.