An exploratory investigation into the factors associated with the attrition of athletic training students

Craig Alan Voll, Purdue University


The expansion of athletic training practice beyond its traditional roots has broadened its role within the healthcare community. In order for the profession of athletic training to continue to advance and remain relevant in the new healthcare environment it must be able to attract and retain quality recruits with the ultimate goal of eventual practice as an athletic trainer. The ability to attract and retain quality students within the profession has taken on added significance with the recent decision by the strategic alliance to require professional education of athletic trainers at the graduate level in no less than seven years. Using occupational socialization theory and the student integration model, the purpose of this investigation was to examine the socialization process of students attempting to become certified athletic trainers and determine factors contributing to either the persistence of a student or the attrition of a student from athletic training. The study was divided into two phases. In phase one, former athletic training students from a variety of athletic training programs within the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers Association completed an online survey related to their experiences as an athletic training student. Results indicate that, while both the attrition and persistence groups share some similarities regarding attraction to the athletic training profession, they vary on the timing of a decision to pursue athletic training as a major as well as the importance of certain attractors and facilitators. In phase two, a subset of participants were invited to participate in interviews regarding their decision to leave the profession of athletic training and pursue a career in another allied healthcare field. At the completion of this dissertation, phase two was still ongoing, but initial insights from the interviews revealed that when participants were asked to explain why they decided to pursue another profession upon completion of their athletic training program, the themes of quality of life and increased career opportunities emerged. The results of this study speak to the importance of the ability of athletic training educators to attract and retain those students who are truly interested in becoming an athletic trainer to advance the field. Implications for retaining quality students and fostering persistence are discussed at length.




Templin, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Pedagogy|Physical education

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