Past CI of the Year

View past recepients of the Clinical Instructor (CI) of the Year award.



Kim Simms, from Heartland Rehab - Salem, was selected as Clinical Instructor of the year for her eagerness to give back to the profession and support of Radford University's DPT program by serving as CI for 3 students in the past year: Elizabeth "Nikki" Smoot, class of '19, Cameron Holshouser, class '18, and Ashley Dudding, class of '20 (pictured with Kim in the photo). Kim Simms is the clinical director for Heartland Rehabilitation Services in Salem, VA.

She has been a practicing physical therapist for 35 years. She graduated from MCV institute which is now known as VCU and has worked in a variety of therapy settings including home health, skilled nursing, acute care and outpatient therapy.

When asked what motivates her to be a CI, she stated “I have enjoyed having students in the clinic and helping them develop their skills with patient interaction and their clinical skills for many years. I try to teach by example, that there is so much more than our clinical skills involved in the treatment of our patients. Treating with kindness, respect and a touch of empathy is critical to their healing. I have always been motivated to have students in the clinic as a means of ‘giving back’. I certainly appreciated what each of my CI’s did for me on my road to becoming the clinician I am today”.

As a Clinical Instructor, Kim actively urges other PTs in all settings to become CIs.

She states “It is important for therapists to have the opportunity to give back to the profession. Being a CI serves as both a learning opportunity for you and the student. I always come away from a clinical refreshed and educated. Having students helps keep you up to date on what the students are learning and allows you to learn new techniques.”

Kim is currently working with RUDPT student Ashley Dudding.

Ashley states, “Having Kim for my first clinical has been a very wonderful and rewarding experience. She taught me early on that communication between the CI and SPT is the key to a successful clinical. She makes it a comfortable learning environment and I am always able to come to her with questions or concerns. She consistently pushes me out of my comfort zone and always provides positive and constructive feedback to help me grow each week. She has helped increased my confidence with initial evaluations, treatment sessions and overall patient interactions as an SPT. Kim deserves to be CI of the year because she is an outstanding therapist that shows empathy, compassion and understanding for each patient. She wants to give back to the therapy profession as a whole, as well as, use her own knowledge and experiences to help teach the next generation of physical therapists”.

We thank Kim for her service and dedication and we congratulate her on a job very well done!

2017 CI of the Year


Christi Scott, from MFA - Pulaski. has been selected as the Clinical Instructor of the Year for 2017. Christi is currently working with RUDPT Student Emily Hiatt. Emily states, "Christi has been a great CI to work with for my first clinical experience. Our communication is great, and she goes above and beyond to make sure to answer any questions that I may have on a daily basis. She always lets me know when I have done something well, and also provides me with feedback in areas that I could improve on. From day one of my clinical, she put me in situations that were out of my comfort zone, which I am very thankful for now because I have become a more confident and skilled SPT because of it. She is a great leader and has taught me so much in just a few months. Christi deserves to be CI of the year because she is so willing to share her knowledge and passion for physical therapy with others."

Please join us in congratulating Christi on a job very well done!

2016 CI of the Year


Clinical Education Review Committee has selected the CI Instructor of the 2016 year from the three student nominations received. Nominated by Anusha Atyam, class of 2018, Kelli Trent Smith of Bassett PT in Bassett, VA was selected. Kelli is a longstanding CI having worked with students in each class beginning with the class of 2014. Over the last two summers, Kelli successfully took on the challenge of working with two of our students at a time (2:1 ratio). She also has hired two RUDPT graduates, one from the class of 2014 and another from the class of 2016.

Anusha commented, “My CI and I had great communication. I could always express my concerns to her and she would always provide me with great feedback. My CI definitely helped build my confidence as a SPT, leading to my overall good experience for this clinical. After I became independent with treatments, especially initial evaluations, I would always have a million questions for my CI. I would always present her with whatever thoughts I had and she patiently answered every question I had, which was a lot. She provided me with all of the correct tools and options to help my learning experience and was a huge facilitator in my experience being good overall.

My CI also had a huge hand in initiating the need for an aquatic therapy as she was aware of current research and how patients could benefit from it to progress with treatment. By having this option, as well as many others, I was able to use practice this aspect of the APTA vision at this clinical rotation”.

Please take a moment to check out Bassett PT’s website video to see some familiar faces.

2015 CI of the Year


It is with great pleasure to announce Radford University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program’s second annual Clinical Instructor (CI) of the Year, Dr. Maria Santalucia Wargo.

Radford University’s DPT program students who participated in spring and summer 2015 clinical internships had the opportunity to nominate their CI(s) for Clinical Instructor of the Year.  Student nomination submissions were blindly reviewed by the Radford University DPT Clinical Education Review Committee and Dr. Wargo was selected.

Dr. Wargo is the Clinic Director at University Physical Therapy in Salem, VA, and was nominated by RU DPT student Amy Putnam, class of 2017.  When asked about her first clinical rotation, Amy said, “Having Maria as a CI was a wonderful experience.  We worked together very well, and she created a positive learning environment on a daily basis.  Our professional relationship is based on communication, honesty, and trust, and I could not have asked for a better PT role model or CI.”

Dr. Renée Huth, the program’s Director of Clinical Education, recognized Dr. Wargo’s desire to make sure she provided a positive learning experience for Amy.  “When I went to visit Maria and Amy onsite, it was obvious the two of them meshed well. Amy reported how comfortable Maria made her feel from day one. Amy continued to work with a patient while Maria and I stepped aside to discuss how things were going. Observing Amy’s confidence level assured me that Amy was in a positive learning environment.”

When asked what motivates Dr. Wargo to be a CI she stated, “I wanted to be a mentor to up-and-coming physical therapists.  I had two amazing clinical instructors when I was in school, and they really shaped my skills and views.  I also wanted to pass on knowledge I have learned while working.”

Dr. Wargo also provided some advice to other PTs thinking about becoming a CI. “It is a great opportunity to teach emerging PTs.  Have weekly goals you go over with the student, and always be open-minded with what the student can teach you.  Try to establish open communication with your student quickly, and have fun!”

When asked to comment about Amy Putnam, her assigned student during summer 2015, she noted that Amy demonstrated, “An eagerness to learn and grow.  Also, I noticed she possessed a solid base of knowledge as a first year student.”

As a thank you, Dr. Wargo not only received a framed certificate as noted in the photo, but also an invitation to attend a Graston M1 training course on-site at RU-DPT on November 21-22, 2015 at no cost. Congratulations to Dr. Maria Santalucia Wargo, and thank you for your commitment to educating future PTs and for your continued support of Radford University’s DPT program!

-Written by Amy Putnam, class of 2017, and Dr. Renée Huth, RUDPT DCE.

2014 CI of the Year


It is a pleasure to announce the Radford University DPT program’s first annual CI of the Year recipient is Nathaniel “Nate” Gay.

Radford University DPT students who attended clinic internships either in spring or summer 2014 were encouraged to nominate their CI(s), with the final selection made by the Radford University DPT Clinical Education Review Committee.

Nate who works as Carilion Clinic’s Coordinator of Clinical Education and Clinical Instructor, in Roanoke, VA, was nominated by RU DPT student, Terry Kahn.  “Nate has been an exemplary CI for me, he has high standards and principles, he makes it a point to be positive even when correcting a technique, and he is a shining example of what a PT should be”, Terry wrote. 

In addition to receiving a framed certificate of recognition, Nate was invited to attend the course, Fascial Manipulation for Musculoskeletal Impairments, hosted by the Radford University Department of Physical Therapy, September 27 and 28, 2014. The $250 registration fee was waived.

Nate was also was asked to provide some personal feedback about being a clinical instructor particularly for Radford University DPT students.

What motivates you to be a CI?

“I had the privilege of working under incredible clinical instructors when I was a PT student.  I have always wanted to give students the same kind of experience.  It is important for clinicians to invest in the "new generation".  I always find that I learn much from the students as well, and am challenged to be more mindful about my own practice and learning.”

What advice would you give other PTs thinking about becoming a CI?

“Definitely take the CI credentialing course--it helped me immensely in learning to organize and plan clinical experiences.  Also, it is important to try to plan ahead, know your regulations (supervision requirements, school requirements, etc.) and approach this in many ways as you would patient management, with clear goals and steps along the way. Be determined to encourage your students, challenge them appropriately, and learn from them as well.  Request feedback regularly.”

As a CCCE and CI for many Radford University DPT students over the past three years, what qualities stand out verses students from other DPT programs?

Professionalism, academic/didactic preparedness, and confidence.  I have been amazed at how quickly these students have learned, and become comfortable in stretching into more independent practice in the clinical experience.  They handle themselves well and demonstrate good understanding of the profession and patient management.

Congratulations Nate and thank you for your continued support of Radford University’s DPT Program.