Background: Healthcare professionals such as athletic trainers must be prepared for autonomous practice immediately after graduation. Although certified, new athletic trainers have been shown to have clinical areas of strength and weakness. To better assess professional readiness and improve the preparedness of new athletic trainers, the factors of athletic training professional readiness must be defined. However, limited research exists defining the holistic aspects of professional readiness needed for athletic trainers. Confirming the factors of professional readiness in athletic training could enhance the professional preparation of athletic trainers and result in more highly prepared new professionals. Therefore, the objective of this study was to further explore and confirm the factors of professional readiness in athletic training. Methods: We used a qualitative design based in grounded theory. Participants included athletic trainers with greater than 24 months of experience from a variety of work settings from each district of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association. Participants took the demographic questionnaire electronically using Qualtrics Survey Software (Prove UT). After completing the demographic questionnaire, we selected 20 participants to complete one-on-one interviews using GoToMeeting audiovisual web conferencing software. IMB Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, v. 21.0) was used to calculate descriptive statistics for participant demographics. The researcher transcribed all interviews verbatim and a utilized a grounded theory approach during qualitative data analysis. Data were analyzed using a constant comparative analysis as well as open and axial coding. We established trustworthiness by using reflexivity, member checks, and peer reviews. Results: Analysis revealed four overarching themes including management, interpersonal relations, clinical decision-making, and confidence. Conclusion: Athletic trainers should be well-rounded. They must possess communication and organizational skills, the ability to collaborate, value self-reflection and continuing education, and have clinical expertise. Future research should be conducted to finalize a comprehensive model of professional readiness for athletic training, to develop a holistic assessment instrument for athletic training professional readiness, and to explore the preparedness of new athletic trainers as athletic training education transitions to the professional masters degree.

Professional Readiness in AT_Figure 1.png (81 kB)
Figure 1: Diagram of the Factors of Professional Readiness in AT