Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Athletic training professional preparation: A study of the employed graduates perspective of the clinical education experience

Kathleen K Culpo, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Professional preparation involves the dissemination of technical knowledge (knowledge and skill necessary to practice profession) as well as fundamental knowledge (professional values, personal attributes, and behaviors expected of professionals). Athletic training education is in the process of extensive entry-level education reform, and while there has been significant emphasis on the technical knowledge expectations of program graduates, there has not been an emphasis on fundamental knowledge expectations. In the midst of entry-level education reform, including the restructuring of the clinical education experience, a close examination of the student's perspective of the old clinical education experience is warranted. With the restructuring of the clinical education requirement, entry-level athletic training education could be losing, or significantly decreasing, a unique aspect of its education process that may have provided a vital pathway for the dissemination of fundamental knowledge to its future professionals. This study used in-depth interviewing and qualitative analysis to determine what recent program graduates learned in fundamental knowledge, and what types of learning experiences elicited such learning. Six employed recent program graduates participated in two ninety-minute interviews. All interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. Fundamental knowledge learned included: an understanding of professional roles and responsibilities; a sense of collegiality; a professional identity; socialization into the profession; self-confidence and independence; empathy and compassion; reliability and responsibility; the ability to develop relationships with a variety of personnel; decision-making skills and quick thinking skills; and being part of a team. Learning experiences that elicited these types of learning included: mentoring relationships with supervising ATC's; having a variety of clinical experiences; independent learning experiences; increased clinical expectations and responsibilities; and clinical experiences involving the day-to-day care of student-athletes. The participants of this study struggled with fundamental knowledge issues as they entered the workplace, yet felt comfortable with technical knowledge skills. The findings of this study serve to enlighten athletic training educators to, (1) the need of professional preparation involving technical as well as fundamental knowledge, and (2) the importance of the clinical education experience in delivering such knowledge.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Culpo, Kathleen K, "Athletic training professional preparation: A study of the employed graduates perspective of the clinical education experience" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152684.