Context

The labor market suffered a mass exodus of employees, including healthcare workers, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous research highlights the vulnerability of young professional athletic trainers (YPATs) to attrition. Investigating pandemic-related employment changes and their impact is essential for developing strategies to improve the retention of YPATs.

Objective

to determine impact of COVID-19 on YPATs’ employment and effect of COVID-19 and employment setting migration on outcome measures of personal and financial well-being, job and career satisfaction, and optimism about staying in the profession.

Design

Cross-sectional, descriptive study.

Setting

Web-based survey.

Participants

1,111 participants responded to survey for an 11.5% response rate (n=1,111/12,810). Partial responses were included; thus, number of respondents varied by question.

Data Collection and Analysis

A web-based survey comprised of 34 closed-ended questions was disseminated to NATA members in November 2022. Descriptive statistics including counts and frequencies for each surveyed item in addition to chi-square tests were used to analyze responses.

Results

30.2% (n=335/1,111) of YPATs changed employers and 25.7% (n=286/1,111) reported a change in employment setting. Notably, YPATs migrated from high school, collegiate, and professional athletics to clinic, industrial, or sales settings. Overall, the pandemic decreased job satisfaction, career satisfaction, and optimism about professional longevity. Changes in employment had a positive impact on personal well-being in addition to job and career satisfaction, but not optimism regarding staying in profession. Salary and work-life balance were reported as important predictors of short and long-term retention for YPATs.

Conclusions

The pandemic brought changes to employers and employment settings for many YPATs. To reduce turnover and attrition, administrators must begin to prioritize employee well-being and satisfaction. In addition to increasing salary and reducing workload, employers should recognize the importance of administrative support in promoting well-being together with satisfaction and professional optimism in early professional and career-advancing athletic trainers.

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Author notes

Youngstown State University 1 University Plaza Youngstown, OH 44555 Phone: 864-270-2934 Email: [email protected] Twitter: emilymulkey

We want to thank the 2022 National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Board of Directors for approving survey dissemination and data collection with the use of organizational resources. Furthermore, we find it imperative to acknowledge all members of the Early Professionals’ and Career Advancement Committees including Cassandra Snow MS, LAT, ATC; Richard S. Bertie, MS, LAT, ATC, PES; Kassandra N Mosley MS, LAT, ATC; Kelley E Crowe MSEd, ATC, CSCS; Beth Walters, EdD, LAT, ATC; Kaleb S, Birney, MS, LAT, ATC, CES, PES; Bre’Layshia J. Alexander M.Ed, LAT, ATC; Kathryn L. DeLost, MS, LAT, ATC, CES; Arika L Cozzi-Smetana, DAT, LAT, ATC; Victoria VanAlstine-Tauer, MS, LAT, ATC; Shaniece K Jackson, DAT, ATC, PES; Kelsey Reilly, MS, LAT, ATC; Jacon Ortega-Schultz, MAT, AT, ATC; Melissa Bulin, MS, LAT, ATC; LaKeesha Busher, MS, LAT, ATC; Hannah Duszynski, MS, ATC, LAT; Daniella C Eiroa, DAT, LAT, ATC, Jessi Cole, MS, LAT, ATC; Katie Schulz, MAEd, LAT, ATC, Heather Dean, LAT, ATC; Regan Croff, MAT, LAT, ATC for their contributions.