Preceptors’ Perceptions of the Preparation and Qualifications for the Preceptor Role

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Context: The 2012 Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) standards include several changes that allow more institutional autonomy when determining the qualifications and preparation of preceptors. Clinical education coordinators (CECs) must make educated decisions in this area, yet minimal research exists to guide their decisions.

Objective: To investigate the preceptor's perceptions regarding the preparation and qualifications for their role.

Design: Qualitative.

Setting: Three undergraduate, CAATE-accredited athletic training programs.

Patients or Other Participants: Seventeen preceptors (8 males, 9 females; 9.88 ± 9.46 years of clinical experience; 5.06 ± 3.92 years of clinical teaching experience) working in the college/university, rehabilitation clinic, and high school settings. Participants were recruited through the CECs of 3 institutions and selected through purposeful sampling. Data were collected until a variety of participant experiences were obtained and data saturation occurred.

Main Outcome Measure(s): The researcher interviewed participants using an individual, in-person, and semistructured format. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using inductive coding with ATLAS.ti software. Trustworthiness was established with the use of source and site triangulation, member checking, and peer debriefing.

Results: Four categories emerged from the data, including benefits, preparation, qualifications, and challenges of being a preceptor. While participants described it was beneficial to supervise students, they also faced several challenges, including balancing their responsibilities and keeping their knowledge current. Participants discussed that mentorship from other preceptors and past experiences as students were primary contributors to their roles as preceptors, whereas preceptor training and communication by the CEC could improve. Participants described that clinical experience, willingness to be a preceptor, and confidence were the main qualifications for becoming a preceptor.

Conclusions: Clinical education coordinators should recruit confident clinicians with sufficient clinical experience to become preceptors along with ensuring adequate preparation of and communication with preceptors. Educators and researchers should consider the challenges faced by preceptors and develop strategies for overcoming these challenges


This article was originally published in Athletic Training Education Journal, volume 10, issue 4, in 2015. DOI: 10.4085/1004302

Peer Reviewed



National Athletic Trainers’ Association