Clinical Experience

The Clinical Experience

      The Clinical Team
      The Clinical Facilities

Athletic Training is an Allied Health Care profession that is inherently clinical in nature. As such the clinical education component of the major is considered the pinnacle of the course of study as students prepare to be practicing professionals in Athletic Training.

The PLNU Athletic Training Program (ATP) requires the Athletic Training Student (ATS) to complete a 6-semester clinical education program at the clinical affiliates listed below. These educational experiences occur under the direct supervision of Certified Athletic Trainers and other allied healthcare professionals—including primary care and orthopedic physicians, physical therapists, and physician assistants—who serve as Clinical Instructors in the ATP.

  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Point Loma High School
  • Helix High School
  • Sweetwater High School
  • Valletta Orthopedics (Orthopedic and Arthroscopic Sports Injury Specialists)
  • Rehab United Physical Therapy and Sports Performance
  • Catalyst Physical Therapy
  • San Diego Sports Medicine
  • Metro Comprehensive Medical Center

Throughout the clinical courses, the Athletic Training Student (ATS) is assigned to an clinical preceptor who has primary responsibility for the athletic health care of athletes/patients. The clinical preceptor is in constant supervision of the ATS by being within sight and sound of the ATS and the client they are serving in order to protect the interests of the athlete being cared for and to provide feedback for the ATS.

Student clinical skills and proficiencies are assessed frequently. Students must demonstrate progressive clinical proficiency to do well in each successive clinical course which culminates with a clinical capstone course, Clinical Preceptorship, in which a mock certification examination is completed.

Preadmission Requirements

Before applying for admission to the ATP 36 hours of PLNU Athletic Training clinical observation must be completed. Arrangements must be made with the Head Athletic Trainer to schedule observation appointments.

Clinical Requirements

The clinical courses are sequential and designed to promote maturation of clinical proficiency through the use of acquired cognitive, psychomotor, affective and clinical skills under the direct supervision of a clinical precetpor

Overview of Clinical Experiences

The six clinical experiences are to be completed in the following sequence:

First Year of ATP:

Course Clinical Setting 
Theme of Experience
Clinical Internship I
Point Loma High School/Helix High School/Sweetwater High School
Equipment Intensive Sports
Clinical Internship IIPoint Loma High School/Helix High School/Sweetwater High SchoolLower Extremity Injury Assessment

Second Year of ATP:      

CourseClinical Setting     Theme of Experience
Clinical Practicum IPLNU       Upper Extremity Assessment & Therapeutic Exercise

Third Year of ATP:

Course Clinical Setting
Theme of Experience
  Valletta Orthopedics
Orthopedics and Surgical
 Rehab United PT OR Catalyst PT
Physical Theray
Clinical Preceptor I  San Diego Sports Medicine or MCMC
General Medicine
 PLNU AT clinic Collegiate

Description of Clinical Education Courses

First Year of the ATP

ATR 290: Clinical Internship I. During the fall semester, students are exposed to varsity and junior varsity football at Point Loma High School. This is an equipment intensive clinical experience; students gain proficiency in inspection and fitting of contact and collision sport equipment. Students learn firsthand about providing athletic healthcare in a high school setting, they gain a first experience with general training room operations, and upper and lower extremity injury evaluation.

ATR 21: Clinical Internship II. During the spring semester, students gain experience with basketball, wrestling and track and field. One additional day is dedicated each week to the PLNU Athletic Training clinic during which students are oriented to the collegiate athletic setting, and specifically learn the History taking component of the injury/illness evaluation process.

Content in the following areas is a hallmark of the first year clinical experiences:

  • High school health care administration
  • Implementation of the Emergency Action Plan at Point Loma High School
  • Integration of the Christian faith and Christ like service to athletes in a diverse multicultural and socioeconomic environment
  • Ethical professional practice of athletic training
  • Acute care and management of athletic injuries
  • SOAP note taking
  • Assessment of lower extremity pathology
  •  Professional goal setting 

Second Year of the ATP

During the second year of the ATP, students complete the course sequence ATR 390 and 391: Clinical Practicum I and II. Students accomplish the entire year of clinical experience at the PLNU campus. The hallmark of this clinical experience occurs as students are assigned an athletic team and provide care under the guidance of that team’s clinical preceptor.

ATR 390: Clinical Practicum I. During the fall semester, students gain proficiency in the advanced assessment of the upper extremity, spine and head. Students also become proficient in the design and implementation of therapeutic exercise programs, specifically focused on a tri-planar, functional rehabilitation approach.

ATR 391: Clinical Practicum II. During the spring semester, students gain proficiency in therapeutic modalities and pharmacology. ATR 415: Therapeutic Modalities and Pharmacology is the concurrent didactic course which forms the basis of competency and proficiency instruction and assessment.

Content in the following areas is emphasized in the second year of clinical experiences:

  • Comprehensive assessment of injury/illness using the HIPS/HOPS methods
  • Ethical professional practice in the collegiate setting
  • Patient privacy and confidentiality
  • Sports nutrition
  • Weight management (Healthy weight gain/weight loss) and body composition
  • Recognition and intervention for disordered eating
  • Therapeutic exercise and rehabilitation (functional rehabilitation)
  • Performance enhancement, strength training and reconditioning
  • Psychosocial intervention and referral
  • Professional development and responsibilities, resume development
  • Professional goal setting

Third Year of the ATP

Students accomplish the course sequence ATR 493 and 494: Clinical Preceptorship I and II during the final year of the ATP. These courses represent a culmination of the educational competencies and clinical proficiencies.

Students receive final instruction and experiences in the following specific content areas:

  •  General medical conditions
  • Patient history
  •  Preoperative health screening and vital signs under the direction of a Physician Assistant
  • Skin conditions
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Neurological conditions
  • Endocrine conditions
  • Genitourinary conditions
  • Gynecological conditions & sexually transmitted diseases
  • Viral conditions
  • Systemic conditions
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Resume development
  • Professional goal setting

ATR 493: Clinical Preceptorship I. In this fall experience, students gain a robust breadth of experiences in athletic training, physical therapy, orthopedics and general medicine.

ATR 494: Clinical Preceptorship II. This spring course provides students a capstone experience in which review, practice and synthesis of all previous competencies and proficiencies are addressed and can be potentially assessed. As part of the culmination of the clinical education program at PLNU, students complete a Mock Certification Examination toward the end of the semester as they are preparing for the NATABOC exam.