Getting to know: Sam Johnson

“In terms of my teaching, I hope the students come out prepared and ready to provide quality care to their patients,” Sam says.


Clinical Assistant Professor and Athletic Training Clinical Education Coordinator Sam Johnson began working at Oregon State in 2003 as a graduate teaching assistant and later an instructor. He has served as an athletic trainer in the Department of Athletics at the University of Portland, a lecturer and assistant program director of undergraduate and graduate athletic training education programs at San Jose State University and an assistant athletic trainer in the Department of Athletics at Stanford University. He earned a master’s degree in Kinesiology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a PhD in Exercise and Sport Science at Oregon State.  

What made you decide to get into this field? Is there one specific moment that inspired your career path?juggle-1

“I knew going into college that I wanted to be an athletic trainer. The idea of teaching and research didn’t enter my mind until my master’s program when two of my mentors suggested I look into PhD programs. I did look into some programs at that time, but I didn’t go right away – I needed time to work clinically before pursuing my doctorate.”

Why did you choose Oregon State?

“Oregon State gave me the opportunity to teach and research things I was interested in exploring. It also continued to allow me to work closely with people I really enjoy being around.”

What is your favorite part about teaching/researching athletic training?

“I have the opportunity to continue to learn and experiment with new ideas.”

What do you believe is your greatest accomplishment in the field?

“Not sure I have a greatest accomplishment, but one of the most rewarding aspects is watching students grow during their time at OSU and seeing them after they graduate. I recall the teachers who impacted me, and I hope I can repay them by passing a little bit of that onto the students I work with.”

How are you going to change people’s lives with your work?juggle-4

“In terms of my teaching, I hope the students come out prepared and ready to provide quality care to their patients. With my research, I hope that it can be used by clinicians to provide better care to their patients.”

What is the best advice you ever received, and who gave it?

“I have been given a great deal of really sound advice from mentors along the way, but one from my undergraduate advisor, Dr. Dan Southard, comes to mind. ‘When all is said and done – my sage advice is to take a position where you will enjoy your work and feel comfortable doing it. There is nothing worse than hating Sundays because the next day is Monday! No salary is worth that.’”

What advice would you like to give to students and young alums?

“For students moving on to graduate school I often share with them, ‘You will get out of graduate school what you put into it.’ But that is really true for most things in life.”

What is one surprising thing about you that not many people know?

“Even though I have students learn (or attempt to learn) to juggle as a model of learning in my motor control and learning class – I can’t juggle.”

What are your favorite activities to do outside of work?

“Enjoying the results of my admittedly amateur fermentation experiments (when they work), cooking and spending time with the people in my life.”

One reply on “Getting to know: Sam Johnson”

Sam taught some of the AT classes I took as an undergrad (he was near done with his PhD). He is a very sincere teacher and always prompted us to think critically and base decisions off our previous knowledge. I don’t know how many people from my class or around that time who went on to doctoral studies but ill always remember what he said about his transition to doctoral studies (that it wasn’t in his original plan). I was the same and look to people like that who have a similar road to being a prof.

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