New chair takes helm of DPT program


Kristen Jagger

Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Kristen Jagger has been named chair of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program in the Waldron College of Health and Human Services.

Jagger takes over for Ed Swanson, the founding chair of the program, who retired on Jan. 9, 2015. Jagger has been with the program since 2011 as an original member of the DPT core faculty.

"Radford University and Ed made a huge investment and commitment to the program," said Jagger. The DPT program graduated its first cohort in May 2014 and also celebrated at a white coat ceremony during graduation weekend. All 11 of the inaugural class of 11 students passed their National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) on the first attempt and are now practicing in Southwest Virginia, the Commonwealth and the region, she said.

"To sustain the momentum of this important program, Dr. Jagger is an ideal leader," said WCHHS Dean Kenneth Cox. "Her understanding of the field, the program and teaching are an excellent combination."

The RU DPT program also received accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) in May 2014. With CAPTE accreditation, RU DPT graduates can sit the NPTE and achieve state licensure in any of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. RU is one of only seven Virginia universities to offer a CAPTE-accredited physical therapy program and the only program serving Southwest Virginia.

"Under Ed's leadership, we truly made the program our own," she said. "The charter class of students and the faculty took a risk on our candidacy and Ed wouldn't let us or the program fail."

Jagger reflected on the process the program made since its inception. It began in the basement of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital (CRCH) with a single classroom and lab. Now housed on the eighth floor, the program has almost 70 students served by a staff of eight in three classrooms, three teaching labs and three research labs.

"We can build upon the excellent foundation for a quality education the program has developed," she said. "There are a lot of opportunities to expand our reach and develop with the region's practitioners."

Jagger came to RU from Dahlonega, Georgia, where she was a clinic director for Northeast Georgia Health System and an assistant professor of physical therapy at North Georgia University (NGU). She has a Ph.D. in biomechanics from the University of Florida and a M.S. in physical therapy from NGU.

Prior to entering into physical therapy, a stint as a volunteer at a hospital helped Jagger switch her career focus from engineering to health care.

"I really loved being a part of a patient's healing," she said. "Now as an educator, it is an absolute joy to see the pieces fall into place for a student and witness their pride as they help people."

Feb 3, 2015