Continuing education for certified athletic trainers : participation and perceived impact on professional practice
Continuing education (CE) is intended to promote professional growth and development and enhance one's professional practice. The purpose of this investigation was to determine Certified Athletic Trainers' (ATs) preferred types/formats and related barriers regarding formal (i.e., approved for CE credit) and informal (i.e., not approved for CE credit) CE activities. Furthermore, what is perceived to impact of CE on athletic training practice with regards to improving knowledge, improving clinical skills/abilities, changing attitudes toward patient care, and improving patient care.The population consisted of a geographic stratified random sample of 1,000 ATs. A total of 427 (42.7%) ATs completed the Survey of Formal and Informal Athletic Training Continuing Education Activities (FIATCEA) developed for this investigation and administered electronically. The FIATCEA survey consisted of demographics/characteristic items and Likert scale items (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree) regarding CE participation and perceived impact on practice, preferred types/formats of CE activities, and barriers to CE participation. Cronbach's alpha determined internal consistency for items within each of the three sections at .945, .638, and .860 respectively. Descriptive statistics were computed for all items. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) and dependent t-tests determined differences between AT demographics/characteristics and participation in CE and the perceived impact on practice, preferred type/format of CE, and barriers to CE participation. The alpha level was set at .05.Informal CE activities were completed more than formal CE activities, t(3) _ -114.182,p > .001. Formal CE activities were perceived to enhance knowledge, t(414) _2.559, p = .001, and informal CE activities were perceived to improve clinical skills/abilities, t(409) = -2.754, p = .006, and attitudes toward patient care, t(407) = -3.630,p < .001. The cost of attending CE (M= 4.13, SD = 0.994) and distance required to travel to CE activities (M = 4.15, SD = 0.958) were bathers to CE participation.A majority of respondents completed informal CE, but formal CE activities were preferred. Barriers to CE participation included cost and related travel. Both formal and informal CE activities were perceived to enhance athletic training professional practice. Informal CE activities should be explored and considered for CE credit.