Perceived Benefits of Graduate-Level Professional Education in Athletic Training

in International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training
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The commissioners of the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and the Board of Directors of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) have acted to move the professional degree in athletic training from a bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree. The decision was largely based upon growth of the profession and aligning with the face of healthcare education. Therefore, we wanted to understand the perceived benefits of the graduate model. Using a qualitative paradigm, we electronically interviewed 29 students and faculty members (13 athletic training faculty and program directors, 16 students) currently in Professional Masters Athletic Training Programs (PM ATP). These represented 13 of the 29 (45%) CAATE-accredited PM ATPs. Five themes emerged from the data: (1) engagement and time spent in clinical education allows students to prepare for their roles as athletic trainers, (2) faculty stress the importance of interprofessional education, (3) expecting prior foundational knowledge allows focused education training at the graduate level, (4) increased professional commitment to stay in athletic training rather than use the training/education as a stepping-stone to other career paths, and (5) higher student maturity facilitates deeper learning. Based on these results, the perceived benefits of the PM ATP model are multifactorial.