Differing employer and alumni opinions of new graduates’ abilities


  • W. David Carr Missouri State University
  • Jennifer Volberding Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSU-COM)
  • Benjamin Timson Texas Christian University


Transition to practice, preparedness, professional socialization


Context: Across multiple disciplines, seasoned veterans often state that recent graduates are not ready to practice. Previous work has established a set of soft skills considered lacking in new athletic training (AT) graduates. Objective: To measure the opinions of AT employers and alumni about the recent graduates’ six soft skills (communication, confidence, independence, creativity, humility, and work ethic) and the seven Foundational Behaviors of Professional Practice (FBPP) delineated in the 5th Edition of the AT Education Competencies. Design: Quantitative online survey instrument. Setting: Three clinical work settings (College/University, High School/Clinic, and Emerging Practices). Patients or Other Participants: Snowball sampling through a variety of email strategies yielded 218 employers of recent AT graduates and 376 recently graduated AT alumni. Main Outcome Measure(s): Self-reported opinions of abilities and employers' opinions of recent graduates’ abilities were collected using the alumni opinion survey (AOS) and employer opinion survey (EOS) respectively. Demographics of the groups and ratings on a Likert-like scale (1-10) were captured for the previously identified six soft skills as well and the seven FBPPs. Analysis of variance was conducted to determine differences between employers and recent graduates and within each group. Results: With the exception of two areas of FBPPs (primacy of the patient and advancing knowledge), significant differences were found between employers and recent graduate groups in all of the six soft skills and five FBPPs. Conclusions: Two possible explanations are made by the authors. Recent graduates are accurately rating their abilities while employers are more critical or conversely recent graduates are inflating their abilities while employers are rating them accurately. When looking at the average values from each group, both were well above average suggesting that recent graduates are doing well, perhaps just not as well as employers would prefer.



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