Context: Employers note that new athletic training graduates are not able to effectively communicate. To date no studies have determined what topics new graduates need to be able to communicate.

Objective: To explore the opinions of athletic training preceptors as to what topics need to be communicated with a variety of stakeholders. Specifically, we wanted to explore what topics are communicated, what barriers exist to getting students involved in professional communication, and what strategies could be used to overcome those barriers.

Design and Setting: A qualitative design involving in-depth focus-group interviews. Interviews were conducted in a controlled environment.

Patients or Other Participants: Athletic trainers from 3 work settings were included: high school (3 male and 3 female; average age 32.5 6 6.1 years), college/university/junior college (5 male and 1 female; average age 34.5 6 6.8 years), and clinic/emerging practices (1 male and 4 female; average age 27.4 6 2.8 years).

Main Outcome Measure(s): Focus-group interviews were audiotaped and then transcribed verbatim and analyzed deductively. Peer debriefing and member checks were used to ensure trustworthiness.

Results: The most often-cited topics to communicate were related to prognosis of the injury with limitations and return to play. The most often-cited barrier to getting students involved was related to interpersonal relationships, with participants noting that it was their role to lead the communication. The most often-cited strategy for getting students involved was challenging the student to do something he had not done before.

Conclusions: It is not realistic to expect new graduates to be proficient at communication if they are not given opportunities while enrolled as students. Preceptors should consider utilizing strategies to overcome barriers and get students more involved. Furthermore, it is important that employers anticipate these deficiencies and mentor new employees appropriately


Public Health and Sports Medicine

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© 2018 National Athletic Trainers’ Association


employer opinions, focus group interview, emotional intelligence

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Journal Title

Athletic Training Education Journal