Perceived Levels of Frustration During Clinical Situations in Athletic Training Students
Heinerichs S, Curtis N, and Gardiner-Shires A. Perceived Levels of Frustration During Clinical Situations in Athletic Training Students. J Athl Training. 2014, 49(1).
Take Home Message: Athletic training students, who are involved in clinical experiences, report the highest levels of frustration when they experience a lack of respect from coaches, athletes, and their preceptors. They also experience frustration trying to balance their clinical experience with other obligations.
Over half of a clinician’s professional development takes place during their educational clinical experience. Although the perceived frustration levels of other allied health fields has been studied, perceived frustration among athletic training students (ATS), has not. By understanding the areas of clinical experience that cause students the most frustration, we can attempt to mitigate excessive stress and promote a better learning environment. Therefore, Heinerichs and colleagues completed a cross-sectional survey study to (1) determine how much frustration ATS perceive during specific clinical situations and (2) determine if those levels were different between male and female ATS. Researchers created and validated the Athletic Training Student Frustration Instrument. In the spring of 2008, they contacted 14 of 19 Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education accredited athletic training education program directors to aid in recruitment of ATS. All 14 program directors agreed to participate and received a package containing informed consent letters, a return address envelope, and the surveys, which the various program directors administered. ATs returned total of 318 (73%) surveys. Participating ATS were primarily upper-level student (78%), and ranged in age from 19-43 years old (91% of respondents were from 19-22 years). Overall, ATS reported the highest level of frustration with a lack of respect from the student-athletes, preceptors, and coaching staff. Other highly frustrating experiences that the ATS reported were balancing clinical obligations and schoolwork as well as the inability to recall previously learned information. Further, female ATS reported higher levels of frustration in 13 of 24 survey items. For example, female ATS reported more frustration when not feeling confident in performing skills, performing previously learned skills incorrectly, fellow students compete with the ATS for learning opportunities during a clinical experience, student-athletes don’t report their injuries, the coaching staff shows a lack of respect, and balancing clinical obligations and school work.
Two of the key findings from this study are that ATS are frustrated by balancing clinical obligations and schoolwork and a lack of respect from not only coaches and student-athletes but also their preceptors. This is last point is concerning since many of the respondent were upper-level students, who are preparing to enter the workforce and may work with colleagues that they feel lack respect for them. To better this working relationship, perhaps athletic training education programs should formally meet with all members of the sports medicine team, including ATS, to clearly define each member’s responsibility and integrate ATS into the institution’s sports medicine team. It is possible that by meeting with all members of the sports medicine team, ATS will gain knowledge in how to navigate personnel issues with a sports medicine team. Also, alarming is the reported issues of balancing both clinical obligations and schoolwork. If this issue is truly causing learning deficits then perhaps education programs should facilitate an environment where the ATS can find time for their schoolwork (e.g., promote group study times). Ultimately, athletic training education programs need to find the best way to mitigate these issues so that ATS can have a safe learning environment, in turn allowing them to focus on bettering their clinical skills.
Questions for Discussion: Have you experienced a lack of respect from other members of the sports medicine team either as an ATS or a certified athletic trainer? If so, what have you done to deal with this stressor?
Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban
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