Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Stephanie M. Mazerolle; William A. Pitney; Laura Burton

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Context: Career opportunities for athletic training students (ATSs) have significantly increased over the past few years. However, it commonly appears that ATSs are opting for a more diversified professional experience after graduation. With the diversity in available options, an understanding of career decision is imperative. Objective: The purpose of our study was to investigate, using the theoretical framework of socialization, the influential factors behind the post graduation decisions of the senior ATS. Design: Qualitative design using internet-based, structured interviews and follow-up semi-structured phone interviews. Setting: Web-based management system. Patients or Other Participants: 22 ATSs (16 females; 6 males), who graduated in May 2010 from 13 different Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) programs. Data Collection and Analysis: All interviews were transcribed verbatim, and the data was analyzed inductively. Data analysis required independent coding by 2 athletic trainers for specific themes. Credibility of the results was confirmed via peer review, methodological and multiple analyst triangulation. Results: Two higher order themes emerged from the data analysis: Persistence in Athletic Training (AT) and Decision to Leave AT. Faculty and clinical instructor support, improved marketability, and professional growth were supporting themes describing persistence in AT. Shift of interest away from AT, lack of respect for the AT profession, compensation, time commitment, and AT as a stepping stone were themes sustaining an ATS’s reason to leave AT. The aforementioned reasons to leave were often discussed collectively, generating a collective undesirable outlook of AT profession. Conclusions: The results of this study corroborate previous literature and highlight the importance of faculty support, professional growth, and early socialization into athletic training. Socialization of pre-athletic training students could alter retention rates by providing in-depth information about the profession before students commit in their undergraduate education, as well as helping reduce attrition prior to entrance into the workforce.

Major Advisor

Douglas J. Casa