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Radford University Partners with Carilion, Jefferson College of Health Sciences to
Base Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in Roanoke

RADFORD -- Radford University, Carilion Clinic and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences have announced that RU will base its new Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program on the campus of the Jefferson College in downtown Roanoke. The DPT program, considered one of the most sought-after graduate programs in the health sciences, is expected to begin training its first cohort of students in June 2011.

President Penelope Kyle
RU President Penelope W. Kyle and Jefferson College of Health Sciences President Nathaniel L. Bishop.

“This collaboration with Carilion Clinic and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences will enable Radford University to address a critical need in southwest and southside Virginia and an important need in American healthcare,” said Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle. “We are excited about this partnership and we are very pleased to play a larger role in a very significant health professions center.”

Radford University’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services is home to three of the new graduate programs in the clinical healthcare fields that Radford University has established over the past several years. The university’s new Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) enrolled its charter class in Fall 2010. The college also launched a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program last Fall.

Radford University, Jefferson College and Carilion Clinic have a long history of working together in health professions education, and the new collaboration will set the stage for future opportunities to collaborate. This new partnership will enable Radford to share space, services and resources, and position RU’s growing academic portfolio in the health sciences in the midst of a rapidly developing regional healthcare center.

“This collaboration further enhances the growing health professions and medical education establishment in the Roanoke Valley, as well as creates another important link with the New River Valley,” said Carilion Clinic Chief Operating Officer Nancy Howell Agee. “It will also be a catalyst for future joint ventures, and we look forward to exploring those possibilities.”

Private support has played an important role in Radford University’s ability to establish the new program, according to Kyle. A $500,000 gift from Medical Facilities of America played a critical role in the initiative, and Pennsylvania-based Genesis Rehab also provided $100,000 in financial support.

"Medical Facilities of America is a Roanoke-based operator of skilled nursing facilities in Virginia and North Carolina, with significant presence in the Roanoke Valley,” said William Fralin, CEO and President of Medical Facilities of America. “MFA's mission is to provide intensive rehabilitation services on an inpatient basis. We are proud of our part in this effort to provide the Commonwealth with additional highly skilled professionals in the field."

Physical therapists design and implement clinical services that restore function, regain movement, alleviate pain, and prevent injury. Electrical, thermal, and mechanical devices are often used in conjunction with specific motion or traction to facilitate recovery. They work closely with other healthcare professionals including physicians, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, educators, nutritionists, and nurses to enhance the quality of life.

Experts predict demand for physical therapists will grow substantially in the years ahead for a variety of reasons. The U.S. Administration on Aging has projected a 20% increase in the population over the age of 65 – or approximately 70 million elderly citizens by 2030. The nation’s growing geriatric population will need professional care to restore function, regain movement, prevent injury, and alleviate aging-associated discomfort. In southwest Virginia, about 18% of the population is 65 or older, which makes the region one of the “oldest” in the Commonwealth. Sports-related injuries, automobile accidents, and military trauma are other factors behind the need for more and better-trained physical therapists.

“The academic home for this program will remain on the campus of Radford University,” said Kyle. “However, the opportunity to locate this program in close proximity to the Jefferson College, Carilion Clinic, and the Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine makes a lot of sense for Radford University and for southwest and southside Virginia.”

Basing the program in Roanoke will provide a more convenient location for the healthcare professionals expected to enroll in the program because this location enables students to access more caseloads and work with patients in the Carilion Clinic’s hospital system. It will also foster intellectual exchange with Carilion physicians, scientists, and teachers involved with their hospitals, in the Jefferson College, and in the Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine. It will also help relieve pressing academic space shortages on the Radford University campus.

As part of the agreement, Radford will lease approximately 7,900 square feet of space on the Jefferson College of Health Sciences campus, including classrooms and labs, offices, student lounge and lockers, conference areas and other spaces.

The majority of the 25 students expected to enter the program each year will enter with a baccalaureate degree concentrating in the basic sciences, according to Dr. Raymond Linville, dean of the Waldron College of Health and Human Services. At full enrollment, the program will enroll 75 students. The DPT program will require 36 months of concentrated study, the curriculum will include 120 credit hours, and the program will emphasize an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach towards healthcare.

The DPT, as compared to the Ph.D., is a practice-oriented doctoral program that educates practitioners as opposed to teachers and researchers. The DPT degree programs are practitioner/scholar models with an emphasis on clinical education and the application of research to clinical practice. RU’s DPT degree is designed specifically for students interested in a professional career within rehabilitation settings and institutions where clinical supervision, as well as the direct application of therapy and assessments, is mandated by licensure regulations.

Currently celebrating its Centennial year (1910-2010), Radford University is a comprehensive, mid-sized university located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwest Virginia. Serving a student population of approximately 9,000, Radford features small class sizes and a strong service orientation on a beautiful 191-acre campus. Progress continues on a $212 million building and renovation program designed to transform its American classic campus with 21st century opportunities. A 2009 renovation of Young Hall has created one of the most technologically advanced academic buildings in the United States. In spring 2010, RU began construction of a $44 million signature building for the College of Business and Economics. Construction of a new $32 million student fitness and wellness center will begin in 2011. The university offers 68 degree programs at the undergraduate level and 24 fields of study at the graduate level that have 15 options or specializations and nine post-baccalaureate certificates. RU has recently added doctoral degrees in psychology, physical therapy, and nursing practice, and a master’s in occupational therapy. Radford University is also recognized for its commitment to sustainability and responsible stewardship of economic, social and environmental resources.

Carilion Clinic is a multi-specialty healthcare organization with more than 600 doctors and eight hospitals, based in Roanoke, Va. Led by physicians, Carilion Clinic is committed to clinical excellence, education and research. Carilion Clinic is dedicated to providing care that is centered on the patient’s needs, supported by an ongoing commitment to quality and service. With nationally recognized specialists, award-winning nurses, the latest technology and state-of-the-art facilities, Carilion Clinic is bringing tomorrow’s healthcare into focus today.


September 15, 2010
Jeff Douglas; 540-831-5182

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