Context: Certified athletic trainers (ATs) working at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I level experience challenges balancing their professional and personal lives. However, an understanding of the strategies ATs use to promote a balance between their professional and personal lives is lacking.
Objective: To identify the strategies ATs employed in the Division I setting use to establish a balance between their professional and personal lives.
Design: Qualitative investigation using inductive content analysis.
Setting: Athletic trainers employed at Division I schools from 5 National Athletic Trainers' Association districts.
Patients or other participants: A total of 28 (15 women, 13 men) ATs aged 35 ± 9 years volunteered for the study.
Data collection and analysis: Asynchronous electronic interviews with follow-up phone interviews. Data were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Peer review, member checking, and data-source triangulation were conducted to establish trustworthiness.
Results: Three higher-order themes emerged from the analysis. The initial theme, antecedents of work-family conflict, focused on the demands of the profession, flexibility of work schedules, and staffing patterns as contributing to work-life conflict for this group of ATs. The other 2 emergent higher-order themes, professional factors and personal factors, describe the components of a balanced lifestyle. The second-order theme of constructing the professional factors included both organizational policies and individual strategies, whereas the second-order theme of personal factors was separation of work and life and a supportive personal network.
Conclusions: Long work hours, lack of control over work schedules, and unbalanced athlete-to-AT ratios can facilitate conflicts. However, as demonstrated by our results, several organizational and personal strategies can be helpful in creating a balanced lifestyle.