WCHHS students and faculty convene for inaugural interprofessional research event


Carla Agee, right, talks about her research poster, titled "Social Work Students' Attitudes Towards Working in End-Of-Life Care," with Stephanie Perla and Shalita Banks during a session at the Waldron College  Interprofessional Symposium & Expo.

To showcase its diverse research initiatives, the Waldron College of Health and Human Services (WCHHS) community gathered Thursday, April 17, in Heth Hall for a day of sharing.

The inaugural Interprofessional Symposium and Expo (IPS&E) featured a Spotlight Presentation on regional attitudes toward complementary and traditional medicine by Virginia Weisz, assistant professor of nursing, and Diane Hodge, professor of social work; oral presentations and poster presentations. The day-long celebration of original research by WCHHS faculty and students was keynoted by Radford University Provost Sam Minner.

"Certain things have to be in place for someone to be a bona fide intellectual and academic like us in the academy. To be an academic, to be on our team, and in our tribe, one must teach truth as he or she knows it. One must serve society by applying what she or he believes to be true to address contemporary challenges in society. And finally one must in some way, in some degree, in some fashion, make new knowledge, what we call research for scholarship," said Minner. "First, your scholarly work has to have some theoretical and instrumental basis. It has to stem from other scholarly work or your clinical or professional experience. Then it has to be made public, like today. It takes courage to do this as an academic."

WCHHS IPS&E keynote speaker RU Provost Sam Minner

RU Provost Sam Minner makes the keynote address at the Waldron College Interprofessional Symposium and Expo on Thursday, April 17, in Heth Hall.

Sarah Snowa, a senior communication sciences and disorders (COSD) major from Richmond, presented her Honors Academy capstone project comparing video and self-directed learning results on programming a device that can be used to give voice to victims of events like a stroke or autism.

"These devices are often abandoned because caregivers or users get frustrated with learning them," she said. "It is important to understand how to help people learn to use the devices, so they will want to use them to communicate. My research showed that video proved to be more effective."

Mary Alice Dunford, a graduate student in social work from Wytheville, talked about her project that summarized the literature on comorbidities like substance abuse, physical and mental illnesses and post-traumatic stress disorder on homeless American combat veterans, saying: "There are a quarter million veterans on the street; it is a huge underserved population." 

Jillian Ramsey and Michelle Walker, second-year COSD graduate students, will soon step into roles as speech language pathologists (SLP) and clinicians. They reflected on their research experience as they prepared to give an oral presentation during the afternoon session.

"By introducing music into speech therapy, we really got kids engaged," said Ramsey.

Added Walker: "I got important practical ideas that I can use myself as I go out into practice."

Ramsey and Walker were part of a joint effort between the music therapy and speech and language pathology programs, led by Associate WCHHS Dean Corey Cassidy and Assistant Professor of Music Patricia Winter. The team also presented at a 2014 statewide professional SLP conference.

For the over 1,000 students, faculty and staff in the schools of nursing and social work, the departments of occupational therapy and COSD and the Doctor of Physical Therapy and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, the IPS&E served important purposes.

"We don’t work in isolation anymore; we work in teams," said WCHHS Dean Ken Cox. "Events like this help us step out of our silos and truly foster interprofessional practice, service and scholarship."

Apr 23, 2014