What can I do as a preceptor to help ensure a positive learning experience for the students at my clinical site?

One of the best ways to facilitate a successful clinical experience for you and your athletic training student(s) is a comprehensive orientation to the clinical site and to your expectations of the students. Discuss with the students your expectations of them and what you value in a students approach to learning. Be direct and set the learning environment you desire from the very start of the experience and hold them accountable. For example, if you want students to ask questions only during certain times (e.g., not during the middle of an evaluation) explain this to them.

Additionally, the CAATE requires the following and should be provided during the orientation:

  • All sites must have a venue-specific written emergency action plan (EAP) and students must be review the EAP before they begin patient care at the site.
  • Students must have immediate access to the EAP in emergency situations.
  • Blood-borne pathogen policies must be posted or readily available in all locations where the possibility of exposure exists and must be immediately accessible to all current students and program personnel including preceptors.
  • Students must have access to and use of appropriate blood-borne pathogen barriers, control measures, and proper sanitation precautions at all sites.


What can I do during the clinical rotation to help students be engaged and learn?

Discuss with them what they are studying in class.

Below is the Master of Athletic Training Curricular Plan

Athletic Training Graduate Courses (98 credits)

  Summer Session 1 (8) Fall (16) Winter (15) Spring (16)
Year 1 H 523
Foundations of Public Health (4)
KIN 509
Practicum (9)
KIN 509
Practicum (5)
KIN 509
Practicum (5)
KIN 511
Introduction to Athletic Training (4)
KIN 521
Orthopedic Assessment of Lower Extremity Injuries (4)
KIN 520
Orthopedic Assessment of Upper Extremity Injuries (4)
KIN 522
Orthopedic Assessment of the Spine (4)
  KIN 565
Emergency Management of Sports Trauma (3)
KIN 561
Psychosocial Factors in Physical Activity (3)
KIN 569
Evidence-based Practice (3)
  KIN 566
General Medical Assessment (3)
KIN 584
Therapeutic Modalities (4)
    Fall (16) Winter (15) Spring (12)
Year 2   KIN 510
Internship (9)
KIN 510
Internship (5)
KIN 510
Internship (12)
KIN 567
Pharmacology in Athletic Training (3)
KIN 568
Athletic Training Program Management (3)
KIN 586
Lower Extremity Therapeutic Exercise (4)
KIN 585
Upper Extremity Therapeutic Exercise (4)
  NUTR 535
Nutrition and Exercise: Macronutrients and Energy Metabolism (3)


Create teachable moments

  • Turn the Tables - Assign the student something to look-up and be able to teach to you or another student.  Have the student bring in a topic that they want to learn more about, or create their own case study.  Have them choose a position statement and come ready to explain it to you.  Anything that puts the responsibility on the student to create a learning opportunity.
  • Scenario Learning – With a Twist
    • Use various levels of students to create scenarios and act them out for each other.
    • Put a time limit on the scenario (ex. athlete walks in 10 mins. before px.)
    • Take the scenario further - add on and make the student decide what to do next (ex: treatments planned don’t work, imaging techniques show a different pathology)
    • Give an injury scenario & have the student prepare a rehab plan.
    • Don’t forget to give general med & emergency scenarios also.
  • “Live Learning”
    • Supervise evaluations of actual injuries and the student walks you through what they want to do.
    • Once the athlete has left, break down what the student did well and what could be improved.
  • Assign the student to pre-plan a rehab for an injury.
  • Use examples of injuries or incidents that actually happened to discuss policies & procedures that are in place. (e.g., concussions)
  • Ethical Dilemmas – Give students a situation that has an ethical dilemma and have them discuss how they would handle the situation.
  • Thinking on the spot
    • Ask the student for specific rehab tasks or special test to be done.
    • Ask the student WHY?  What is your rationale?  Then what?
  • Mini Journal Club
    • Assign a student to pick an article to for the group to read.  The student must come prepared to explain the article and lead a short discussion.
  • Teach them “my way”
    • Give an orientation on stretching techniques, or exercises that you commonly use, teaching the student the appropriate cues and things to be watching for.
  • Find articles for your students related to specific cases you are dealing with, and apply.
  • Make a point to teach about communication skills and how to interact – not just skills and tasks – but also how to work with people.
  • Communication Role Play – Use a situation you dealt with when giving news to a coach or explaining an injury to an athlete.  You play the role of the coach or athlete, and make the student practice communicating and answering questions as the ATC.
  • Muddy Point – When supervising a group of students, poll them occasionally to find out what areas they have questions in.  What concepts are not yet clear?


What should I do if the student…

Does not follow the dress code?

Explain to them why their attire is not appropriate for a healthcare professional and instruct them to remedy the problem. It could be as simple as a shirt needing to be tucked in or it may require the student to leave and return to the clinical site after changing. It is suggested that more severe violations be documented and if it continues discussion with either the Program Director or Clinical Education Coordinator.


Is late?

Explain to them why punctuality is important and how communication with their supervisor is essential if they are going to be late. Again document when the student is late and in cases of habitual tardiness inform the Program Director or Clinical Education Coordinator.


Does not appeared to be engaged in the learning process?

Discuss with the student your perceptions of their behavior. It may be that student just needs some direction and perhaps one of the ideas for creating teachable moments may help. However, it could be that athletic training is not for this student. In cases such as this, a frank discussion with the student is warranted and notification of either the Program Director or Clinical Education Coordinator is needed.


Asks questions / makes comments at inappropriate times?

While questions are an integral part of the learning process remind them of your expectations that you set out during the orientation. You don’t want to eliminate them asking questions but a reminder asking at the appropriate place and time.


Does something that I don’t feel is appropriate?

Inform the student immediately to stop the behavior – in other words, nip it in the bud. Explain to the student why the behavior is not appropriate. If warranted document the behavior and inform the Program Director or Clinical Education Coordinator.