Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Heather Schugar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alison Gardiner-Shires, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jacqueline Hodes, Ed.D.


Athletic Training Education Competencies (2011) include exhibiting empathy and compassion as foundational behaviors of practice. Despite evidence supporting the importance of compassionate care, there is currently evidence to suggest that healthcare is experiencing a compassion crisis (Patel et al., 2019). The purpose of this study was to investigate the ways pre-professional athletic training students’ transfer knowledge from a soft skills curriculum to clinical practice. This study utilized an explanatory sequential mixed method design with a preliminary quantitative input (Morgan, 2014). Phase 1 of the study includes participants (n=19) enrolled in a pre-professional AT course. The quantitative questionnaires utilized are; the Jefferson Empathy Scale-HPS (Fields, 2011) and the Compassion Scale (Pommier & Neff, 2019). A repeated measures ANOVA calculated the students’ empathy and compassion composite at three timepoints. The results revealed statistical significance within the students’ development of empathy and the compassion construct of kindness.

Phase 2 included the same participants, now entry-level master students, in an AT program. Participants completed bi-weekly reflection logs describing empathy and compassion occurrence during their clinical experience. Reflection logs were coded with a constant comparative analysis. The embedded Phase 2 included four (n=4) semi-structured interviews. The results revealed that students applied empathy by connecting with their patients through lived experiences and the ability to stay out of judgement when listening to patients. The students described using compassion by reassuring their patients that they were not going to endure their injury alone and that a support system is in place.