Characteristics of Patient Encounters for Athletic Training Students during Clinical Education: A Report from the Association for Athletic Training Education Research Network

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Journal of Athletic Training


Context: To enhance the quality of patient care, athletic training students (ATSs) should experience a wide variety of clinical practice settings, interact with diverse patient populations, and engage with patients who have a wide variety of conditions. It is unclear in what ways, if any, ATSs have diverse opportunities during clinical experiences. Objective: To describe the characteristics of patient encounters (PEs) ATSs engaged in during clinical experiences. Design: Multisite panel design. Setting: Twelve professional athletic training programs (5 bachelor's, 7 master's). Patients or Other Participants: A total of 363 ATSs from the athletic training programs that used E∗Value software to document PEs during clinical experiences. Main Outcome Measure(s): During each PE, ATSs were asked to log the clinical site at which the PE occurred (college or university, secondary school, clinic, or other), the procedures performed during the PE (eg, knee evaluation, lower leg flexibility or range of motion, cryotherapy), and the patient's diagnosis, with the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision code (eg, S83.512A knee sprain, anterior cruciate ligament). Results: A total of 30 630 PEs were entered by 338 ATSs across 278 unique clinical settings. More than 80% of PEs occurred in college or university and secondary school settings. More than half of the diagnoses were categorized as affecting the lower body region. Examination and evaluation procedures and application of therapeutic modality procedures each contributed approximately 27% of procedures. Conclusions: It was surprising that ATSs were not gaining experience in all clinical practice settings in which athletic trainers commonly practice. Our data suggest that students may be consigned to working with patients who have more frequently occurring injuries, which may not prepare them for the realities of autonomous clinical practice. These findings indicate that directed efforts are needed to ensure that ATSs are provided opportunities to engage with diverse patient populations who have a variety of conditions in an array of clinical site types during their clinical experiences.

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