Overview of the Academic and Clinical Components of the AT Program

The professional education program in Athletic Training is three years in duration and follows one or more years as a pre-AT student. Entry into the professional program is selective and competitive. The professional program includes both didactic (classroom) and clinical education segments. These two segments should not be viewed as separate entities, as they are closely linked together. The didactic portion focuses on the cognitive development of competencies and many laboratory opportunities to develop psychomotor skills, while the clinical portion provides opportunities for the student to experience real-world application of skills and to develop the professional behaviors of a certified athletic trainer. The clinical education would not be as helpful without the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, and visa versa the classroom knowledge and skills would not be as effective in the development of a competent athletic trainer without the experiential learning provided in the clinical portion of the program.

 In order for a student to be successful in this program he/she MUST take responsibility for his/her education and seek every opportunity to learn and improve. A student will not learn by simply “having exposure” to ideas and experiences, but will learn when he/she purposefully seeks to engage in those ideas and experiences. Students should be encouraged to ask questions of their academic and clinical instructors, to use the many available resources in this program, and to constantly seek feedback about ways to improve their level of knowledge and proficiency.

The NATA Education Council provides CAATE-accredited athletic training education programs with a document called “Athletic Training Educational Competencies.” Programs must use this document when structuring the didactic and clinical education experience for students. The competencies, the clinical proficiencies, and the foundational behaviors of professional practice are integrated into the Castleton Athletic Training Program.

 Students will complete six semesters of clinical activities. Clinical activities occur as part of clinical courses and credit hours are earned for them. These courses include both formal assessment of clinical proficiencies through individual work with a preceptor, and “real world” clinical field experiences to include assignments with men’s and women's varsity athletic teams, cooperative experiences at other area colleges and high schools, and rotations through Killington Medical Clinic, the Vermont Orthopedic Clinic, Rutland Regional Medical Center Emergency Room, Castleton Family Health, Slate Valley Physical Therapy, and Ashcroft Chiropractic Clinic.

Learning Over Time (Mastery of Skills):

Definition: The process by which professional knowledge and skills are learned and evaluated. This process involves the initial formal instruction and evaluation of that knowledge and skill, followed by a time of sufficient length to allow for practice and internalization of the information/skill, and then subsequent re-evaluation of that information/skill in a clinical (actual or simulated) setting (CAATE Clinical Education Terminology).

Learning Over Time at Castleton:

The athletic training program at Castleton will use the following components for teaching, evaluating, and documenting clinical education: Competency Assessment, Proficiency Assessment, Clinical Field Experience, Program Competency Examinations, and Portfolio Development. Each component is further explained below.

Competency Assessment:

Cognitive and Psychomotor competencies are formally taught within the didactic courses. A complete list of didactic courses included in the AT Program can be found in the college catalog, or in the AT Program Student Handbook under “AT Program Course Sequence”. Once the student passes an AT course, he/she can then use the learned skills within the clinical field experience under the supervision of a preceptor.

Those AT courses that have a significant amount of psychomotor skill development built into the course have a lab or “hands on” component in which the student can practice learned skills.   Students must receive a B- or better grade in each course listed below. If the student does not receive a B- in these courses, he/she must retake the course and will not be allowed to use the learned skills in the field experience assignment until the required course grade is achieved.

Introduction to the Athletic Training Profession

Anatomical Aspects of Sports Medicine

Emergency Care and Personal Safety

Practicum in Athletic Training

Evaluation and Mgmt of Injuries- Lower

Evaluation and Mgmt of Injuries- Upper

Therapeutic Interventions I

Therapeutic Interventions II

Admin of A.T. and Sports Med Programs

Evaluation and Mgmt of Injuries- Head, Neck and Trunk

Applied Nutrition and Weight Control

Pharmacology and General Medical Conditions

Senior Seminar in Athletic Training

Proficiency Assessment: The Proficiency Assessment will occur in each of the five clinical courses. A preceptor will be assigned to recheck skills learned in previous coursework. The purpose of the Proficiency Assessment is to place the student in a clinical experience where previously learned skills can be synthesized and integrated into a decision-making environment. A Proficiency Assessment ensures that the student has mastered the particular skills that have been assessed.

Supervised Clinical Field experience

The Supervised Clinical Field Experience is where experiential learning occurs. Students are assigned to a variety of settings with patients engaged in a range of activities with conditions described in athletic training knowledge, skills and clinical abilities, role delineation study and standards of practice delineated for a certified athletic trainer in the profession. Skills that are learned during clinical education are REFINED and APPLIED here. Note: An athletic training student shall NOT perform any skills in the clinical field experience UNTIL the Competency Assessment of the skills has been completed (i.e. completed coursework). The Supervised Clinical Field Experience is a component of each of the clinical courses. A progressive assessment tool has been developed to allow the preceptor to evaluate the performance of the ATS at each level of clinical advancement in the program.

Program Competency Examinations

Students in Level 2 and Level 4 of the AT Program will be required to take cumulative competency examinations. Level 2 students will complete the exam as a component of the Clinical 2 course, and they must score a minimum of 70% or better on the exam to pass the course. Students will have the opportunity to retake the exam within 2-3 weeks of the test. Failure to pass the exam will delay the start of the next clinical experience course in the following semester. Level 4 students will take the exam as a component of the Senior Seminar in Athletic Training course. Students who do not achieve a score of 70% or greater on this examination may be denied clearance to register for the BOC exam until they meet the passing point.


The portfolio includes documents that demonstrate the student’s progress throughout the educational experience and provides evidence of his/her competency and proficiency as he/she progresses through the athletic training education program and into the profession of athletic training.