Shari Clark imparts real-world knowledge on athletic training students

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Clark imparts real-world knowledge on athletic training students

It’s sometimes said — usually by those determined to disparage educators — those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

And then there is Shari Clark, who is both a doer and a teacher — much to the benefit of students within UW–Madison’s Athletic Training program.

“One of my favorite aspects about the Athletic Training program at UW–Madison is how those in the classroom, like Shari, have clinical experience as well as a background in teaching,” says Allyssa Memmini, a senior studying to become an athletic trainer. “Instead of lecturing directly from a textbook, Shari consistently gives real-world examples to explain specific concepts on a whole different level.”

Shari ClarkClark splits her time between the Department of Kinesiology, where she is a faculty associate and the Athletic Training program’s clinical coordinator, and UW Health, where she works in the Sports Rehabilitation Clinic as a senior athletic trainer. In addition to having a caseload of patients at UW Health, Clark also stays active in athletic training by providing on-field coverage each fall for the Belleville (Wis.) High School football team.

“I really do have my foot in both worlds,” she says of her academic and clinical realms.

Clark, who earned an undergraduate degree in kinesiology from UW–Madison in 1988 and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from the university in 2003, says that from a relatively young age she knew she wanted to work in a medical field. Like many, although she had a general sense of what doctors and nurses do, the world of athletic trainers was mostly an unknown.

At the most basic level, she explains that athletic trainers are on the front lines of the health care profession as they collaborate with both the patient and physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

Each year a cohort of 18 students is admitted to UW–Madison’s Athletic Training program, which is an undergraduate professional program offering a strong mix of basic sciences, kinesiology courses and athletic training subject matter. Outside of the classroom, students at UW–Madison gain real world, clinical experiences with Badger sports teams on campus and in area high school settings.

Shari ClarkIn her role as the clinical coordinator, Clark assigns students to their clinical learning site and preceptor. And as a faculty associate, she also teaches classes, including courses on therapeutic strategies, and medical aspects of sport and exercise.

“This profession can be very rewarding in that it allows you to really get to know your patient as a person, and then help that person navigate all the things related to their health care and ultimately overcome an injury to get back to doing what they love,” says Clark, who is just as passionate about taking her experiences as a working athletic trainer and imparting that knowledge to her students.

And that’s a win-win for all involved.

“I am thrilled that our students can benefit from Shari’s expertise in the classroom and lab settings,” says Andrew Winterstein, director for the Athletic Training program. “The fact that they can learn from a practicing athletic training professional gives them a deeper insight into the material and the dynamics of patient care. She is wonderful at bridging the current evidence with the ‘real world’ realities and practice of patient care.”
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