The Clinical Experience

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 Education Program (ATEP) 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 ATEP.  

  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Point Loma High School
  • Helix High School
  • Valletta Orthopedics 
  • Kaiser Orthopedics
  • Longevity Physical Therapy 
  • Rehab United Physical Therapy and Sports Performance
  • Metro Comprehensive Medical Center
  • San Diego Sports Medicine (Sorrento Valley, Alvardo)

Throughout the clinical courses, the ATS is assigned to a preceptor who has primary responsibility for the athletic health care of athletes/patients. The preceptor is in constant supervision of the ATS by being within sight and sound of the ATS and the client(s) 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 ATEP 36 hours of PLNU Athletic Training clinical observation must be completed. Arrangements must be made one of the staff Certified Athletic Trainers 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 preceptor. 

Overview of Clinical Experiences

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

First Year of ATEP:

CourseClinical SettingTheme of Experience
Clinical Internship I       Point Loma High School and/or Helix High SchoolEquipment Intensive Sports
Clinical Internship IIPoint Loma High School and/or Helix High SchoolLower Extremity Injury Assessment


Second Year of ATEP:

CourseClinical Setting     Theme of Experience
Clinical Practicum IPLNU                          Upper Extremity Assessment
& Therapeutic Exercise  
Clinical Practicum IIPLNUTherapeutic Modalities, harmacology & Nutrition


Third Year of ATEP:

CourseClinical SettingTheme of Experience
Clinical Preceptor         

Valletta Orthopedics 

Rehab United PT or Longevity PT

SDSM or MCMC

PLNU AT Clinic

General Medical Conditions & BOC Prep            
Clinical Preceptor IIPLNU AT ClinicCompetency & Proficiency Review, Professional Development


Description of Clinical Education Courses 


First Year of the ATEP.

ATR 290: Clinical Internship I. During the fall semester, students are exposed to varsity and junior varsity football at Point Loma High School and/or Helix 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:

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

Second Year of the ATEP.

During the second year of the ATEP, 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 Athletic Trainer/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, pharmacology and nutrition. 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 ATEP.

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

ATR 493: Clinical Preceptorship I. In this fall experience, students gain a robust breadth of experiences in athletic training, physical therapy, orthopaedics and general medicine. During this course you will also begin to preparation for your NATABOC exam.

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.

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 Assestant
  • Skin conditions
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Neurological conditions
  • Endocrine conditions
  • Genitourinary conditions
  • Gynecological conditions and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Viral conditions
  • Systemic conditions
  • Resume development
  • Professional goal setting