In 2004, the 12 graduates of the Whitworth University Athletic Training Education Program achieved a 66 percent first-time pass rate on their discipline's certification exam, exceeding the national average of 34 percent, says Russ Richardson, director of athletic training and associate professor of athletic training at Whitworth.
Although the Whitworth students' pass rate consistently exceeds the national average, "This is the best performance across the board that we have ever achieved," Richardson says.
The National Athletic Trainers' Association's Board of Certification exam includes written, practical and simulation portions. Students must pass the exam in order to practice as athletic trainers.
Whitworth, Eastern Washington University and Washington State University are the only schools in Washington state that offer accredited athletic-training programs.
Richardson attributes Whitworth graduates' success to the program's high-caliber and motivated students, the newly-created senior seminar, and the quality of Whitworth's professors.
"Our students are taught by an outstanding faculty of committed Christian scholars who integrate their faith into the understanding of what it means to be an athletic trainer," Richardson says. "We have small class sizes and experienced educators who contribute to an exceptional learning environment."
Another program component that helps students succeed is clinical experience, in which students are exposed to all aspects of the athletic-training profession. Through hands-on, on-the-job learning, clinical experiences allow students to study athletic training at Whitworth, in area high schools, at Rockwood Urgent Care Clinic and in local sports-therapy clinics.
After earning certification, some students work as athletic trainers in high schools, colleges or universities. Several Whitworth graduates work in sports physical-therapy clinics. One recent graduate is an assistant athletic trainer for the Miami Dolphins.
Nearly 75 percent of Whitworth's athletic-training students will enter graduate programs within two years of graduation, Richardson says.