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).

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

Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban

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Related Research:

Heinerichs, S., Curtis, N., & Gardiner-Shires, A. (2014). Perceived Levels of Frustration During Clinical Situations in Athletic Training Students Journal of Athletic Training, 49 (1), 68-74 DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.6.12