A few weeks ago, Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc) graduate Brian Smith presented his dissertation poster at the annual Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His dissertation is titled Predictors for Obtaining a 10-year Continuing Accreditation in Professional Athletic Training Education.
Prior to completing his DHSc at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), Smith completed undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology from California State University Chico and went the internship route to become a certified Athletic Trainer.
Smith spent most of his childhood moving from state to state as a “Navy brat.” He mostly lived in California and became interested in the field after he tore his ACL and meniscus senior year of high school. He thought he was going to go the physical therapy route.
“I liked the sports side of athletic training,” Smith said. “Being around teams, competition, working with athletes, that’s what drew me to AT.”
Smith then attended Indiana University to complete his master’s degree while also working as the Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer for the football team and women’s rowing team. He went on to complete a one-year fellowship with the Olympic Committee in Chula Vista after graduation, and then moved into high school Athletic Training in the San Diego County. After a few years, he accepted his first job as a full-time AT in a college setting at Cal State San Marcos.
“I worked at that college setting for about 4 years then decided that things had changed in my life,” Smith said. He had started a family and decided it was time to shift his career to meet his new life demands.
“Teaching has always been in my blood,” Smith said. “The academic side opened a better work-life balance while still being able to influence young professionals in AT.”
He worked his way up the ranks at Charleston Southern University while chipping away at his DHSc degree from USAHS.
“Brian was an impressive student in our DHSc program because he showed academic excellence in his coursework and his dissertation research,” said EdD Program Director Dr. Sunddip Aguilar.
As the current Program Director at Charleston Southern University, Smith recently went through a two-year process starting back in 2016 for continuing accreditation for the Athletic Training program.
“I had never taken a program through the continued accreditation process,” Smith said. “So, I was trying to look up studies out there that linked success in the process with certain variables concerning the program director or faculty involved.”
He couldn’t find any studies on the subject pertaining to AT, but he did find such studies in the field of physical therapy dating back to the early 2000s. The physical therapy studies on continuing accreditation concluded that program directors with certain leadership characteristics were linked to success in the continuing accreditation process.
That’s where Smith’s dissertation was born. He took a similar approach and applied them to his field of athletic training.
“If someone in the future finds themselves in the same boat I was in, my hope is that they can look at my study and be able to know what factors may be predictors to success in the 10-year accreditation,” Smith said, adding that he hopes his research will inspire future studies.. He wants to continue to be involved with this area of research and build off it to create leadership profiles that program directors can use to help professors and clinicians reach their goals.
“Smith’s dissertation is really important because in addition to athletic training programs, other healthcare professional programs seeking continuing accreditation will find this study to be one of importance because it will insight programmatic and academic management across disciplines,” Dr. Aguilar said.
Smith was successful in getting the AT program at Charleston Southern University changed to a master’s level and secured 10-year continuing accreditation approved for the program.
“I want to continue to grow our program and influence the students that come through it,” Smith said. Another goal is that I want to get the word out about AT and the career and what we do within the healthcare field.”