Athletic Training Students' Perceptions of Mentorship in Clinical Education

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Context: Mentorship is a developmental process whereby a novice individual, as he/she becomes inducted into his/her area of expertise, is guided by a more experienced person. Speculation exists that years of experience can impact this relationship.

Objective: To determine the impact mentoring can have on athletic training student development and evaluate if experience as a preceptor is viewed as influential on the mentor experience.

Design: Mixed-methods study.

Setting: Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education accredited programs.

Patients or Other Participants: We recruited 17 (14 females, 3 males) athletic training students to participate in our study. On average, our participants were 21 ± 1 years old and represented varying levels of academic standing (1 sophomore, 9 juniors, 7 seniors). All participants indicated they currently had a mentor when asked directly.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Participants responded to the Athletic Training Perceptions of Effective Mentoring survey and 14 open-ended interview questions regarding their perceptions of mentoring. An inductive approach was used to identify themes and supporting categories. Trustworthiness was established by using multiple-analyst triangulation, peer review and piloting of the instruments, and triangulation of data using a mixed-methods approach.

Results: Athletic training students perceive their mentoring experiences as those that provide support and understanding, advance their clinical practice, and allow for the development of career goals. Age and experience did not appear to impact the overall experience of the student but rather facilitates the type of mentoring relationship developed.

Conclusions: Mentoring was perceived to be an advantageous aspect of the socialization process for the athletic training student. It provided support and understanding during times of increased stress, allowed for the development of clinical skills, and provided the chance to cultivate a professional identity.


This article was originally published in Athletic Training Education Journal, volume 11, issue 2, in 2016.

Peer Reviewed



National Athletic Trainers' Association