Perceptions of Athletic Training Education Program Directors on their Students' Persistence and Departure Decisions

Bowman, Thomas G., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Wathington, Heather Deneen, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hertel, Jay, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Meyer, Patrick, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Steinmetz, Christian, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The athletic training profession is in the midst of a large increase in demand for health care professionals for the physically active. In order to meet demand, directors of athletic training education programs (ATEPs) are challenged with providing sufficient graduates. There has been a large increase in ATEPs nationwide since educational reform in athletic training in 2004. Younger ATEPs have been found to struggle additionally with retaining students than other more established programs; however, it remains unknown whether retention is currently a problem in athletic training education. I used a mixed method survey - the Athletic Training Student Retention Survey for Program Directors - to determine if retention is a problem in athletic training education and what factors program directors believe are associated with student persistence and departure decisions. I gathered responses from a representative group of 177 program directors out of 343 nationwide (51.6%). The results of the study indicated a selfreported retention rate of 81.02%. This rate is reasonable compared with another similar health care professional program at the baccalaureate level. I identified several factors that influence student retention. The timing of the secondary admissions process, the number of students admitted to the ATEP annually, the curricular design, and the experiences of students all factor into the decisions of students to persist in or depart from an ATEP according to ATEP program directors. Program directors should provide students with early socialization to allow them to make an informed decision to enter an ATEP, select students who they can provide with individual attention and who can be successful in their program, avoid unreasonable academic expectations by carefully designing the curriculum, and provide a dynamic and exciting atmosphere to support student learning.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
health care professionals, athletic profession, athletic training education, retention
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