Context: Clinical education is an important component of athletic training education. Concern exists regarding whether clinical experience adequately prepares students to perform professional skills after graduation, particularly with patients in emerging settings. Objective: To determine the confidence levels of athletic training graduates in performing professional skills, providing care to patients in emergent settings, and to suggest improvements in clinical education. Design and Setting: A descriptive design involving an online survey. The survey was administered via email 2 weeks after the closing of the April 2011 Board of Certification (BOC) examination window. Patients or Other Participants: All 832 first-time candidates from undergraduate and graduate Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education--accredited programs sitting for the BOC examination during the April 2011 testing window were surveyed. Eighteen percent (n = 166) elected to participate. Main Outcome Measure(s): Responses were acquired regarding levels of confidence in performing athletic training skills and caring for multiple patient populations. Participants were permitted to suggest improvements in clinical education. A multivariate analysis of variance was used to determine if educational setting played a role in confidence levels. Cluster analysis was used to develop high, moderate, and low confidence groups. Participants' comments were thematically separated into specific categories. Results: Participant confidence levels were strong in performing athletic training skills on traditional patient populations, although body region was a factor. Lower confidence levels were reported for caring for elderly and special needs individuals, with insufficient clinical experiences stated as the primary cause. Confidence levels for recognizing nonorthopaedic concerns were lower than for recognizing musculoskeletal injury issues. Conclusions: Participants felt confident in performing athletic training skills, particularly for athletic populations. Confidence scores were lower for other populations, and it is apparent that clinical experience with different patient populations is essential. Participants felt that greater clinical experiences are necessary, with further opportunities in clinical decision making and program administration decisions.
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