Years ago, Dr. Kelli Snyder sat at an interprofessional education ad hoc committee meeting at Allen College. Little did she know that casually talking about the free clinic run by Allen faculty would flourish into one of the most eye-opening experiences for UNI athletic training graduate students. The free clinic allows athletic training graduate students to serve the Cedar Valley community by treating underserved patients. 

Snyder has been the Athletic Training Program Director for 15 years. She ensures that the graduate program maintains compliance with their accreditation standards, and teaches courses that include orthopedic pathology, orthopedic surgical interventions, among others. 

Snyder had always aspired to teach athletic training: “I really didn't think it would happen so early in my career, to be honest.” After receiving her bachelor’s in athletic training at UNI, she gained her master’s in kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She then landed an athletic trainer position at Waterloo, Iowa’s Columbus High School, all while making time to work at an outpatient physical therapy clinic. She returned to UNI to become an instructor for the athletic training program, and eventually pursued her doctorate in education. “It was hard to leave those positions but when the opportunity presented itself, it just was really difficult to say no, and I'm glad I didn't because it's been a really exciting ride the last 15 years at UNI.”

Her specific research areas include patient outcomes following injury, patient reported outcomes, the study of the impact of service learning and interprofessional education simulation on athletic training education.

Her research continues to blossom into projects like the community partnership project called the ACE-SAP clinic. Located in the basement of a Salvation Army in Waterloo, the clinic is free to the public and operated by nurse practitioner faculty and students from Allen College, with assistance from UNI’s athletic training graduate students. “The clinic is a really wonderful opportunity for students because they get to apply their athletic training skills and knowledge to diverse patient populations” says Snyder. “Additionally, they get to work collaboratively with nurse practitioner students and learn from nurse practitioner faculty.” 

The ACE-SAP clinic has given athletic training master’s student Sydney Krogman lots of hands-on experience, such as making exercise plans for patients with musculoskeletal injuries. Krogman has also had Snyder as a professor. She says that in class “Dr. Snyder is really good at making tables that can compare and contrast different diagnoses or different pathologies. When you schedule meetings with her, she's always willing to explain stuff in different ways that make sense to you; for example, using the tables.” Snyder’s instruction gave Krogman the tools to change patient’s lives at the ACE-SAP clinic. 

Snyder loves working with students and seeing where their education takes them, such as when she sees former students working as athletic trainers at her son’s high school cross country meets. She also likes watching the students apply what they learned from the classroom to their clinic experience. 


Whitman Cler