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New Doctoral and Master's Programs Approved by General Assembly

RADFORD -- Radford University recently received approval from the Virginia General Assembly to offer two new graduate programs: a doctoral degree in physical therapy (DPT) and a master’s degree in occupational therapy (MOT).

According to Raymond Linville, dean of the RU Waldron College of Health and Human Services and a leader in the DPT and MOT initiative, the graduate programs were developed to address a significant shortage of physical and occupational therapists in the area. The programs feature courses focused on educating students to work in a rural environment while maximizing opportunities for graduates to work with area specialists in experiential programs designed to encourage students to work in a rural community after graduation. Other incentives, including sign-on bonuses and tuition reimbursement, will further encourage graduates to remain in Southwest Virginia.

“Shadowing helps. If a student works at a facility, they will blend in if they’re hired after graduation because they know the place,” said Linville. In fact, students interested in the DPT and MOT programs must complete at least 100 hours of volunteer work before they can even apply for admission. Once accepted, students must complete 120 credit hours in DPT, while MOT students will be required to take 83 credit hours.

The programs have generated great interest among potential students and the community. “People I don’t even know are coming up to me in restaurants and asking about the programs,” said Linville. “And that’s the grassroots of what we’re trying to do.”

Alvin Alexander, an RU graduate who has already expressed interest in the DPT program, recognizes it as an opportunity to convey his dedication to the region. “I have commitments to the local community, being a school board member for Radford City Schools. I do not have plans to apply to other DPT programs at other schools because it all comes back to my commitment to the area and being able to stay here.”

RU is currently recruiting chairs for the DPT and MOT programs, as well as a director for clinical experience. After that, eight-and-a-half full-time faculty and staff will be hired into the DPT program, while six full-time faculty and staff will be incorporated into the MOT program.

The programs fall within a vision outlined in the university’s strategic plan, 7-17, Forging a Bold New Future: to be among the top 50 masters universities in the nation and to create graduates who become leaders in their communities.

“We want to serve the community. We all have a commitment to serve,” Linville emphasized. “We want to establish a program that puts RU on the national map for allied health.”

June 10, 2008
Contact: Mindy Buchanan-King (mlbuchana@radford.edu; 540-831-7764)

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