Become a healthcare hero today with a graduate degree from RUC

Healthcare is complex, ever-changing and challenging. Many healthcare professionals continually prepare themselves by exploring advanced, innovative educational opportunities to ensure they are ready for what’s next. To help spark this exploration, Radford University Carilion (RUC) now offers some of the best healthcare-focused graduate programs in the nation.

Recently, six programs in Radford University’s College of Graduate Studies and Research were ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 edition of Best Graduate Schools, including RUC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) and Master of Occupational Therapy (M.O.T.) programs. RUC was ranked among the top health schools in the country.

In addition to the D.P.T. and M.O.T. degree programs, RUC offers master’s degrees in Healthcare Administration, Health Sciences, Nursing Administration, Family Nurse Practitioner, Occupational Therapy and Physician Assistant, as well as doctoral programs in Occupational Therapy and Health Sciences.

RUC also offers a dual degree track to earn a Master of Health Sciences and a Doctor of Health Sciences degree (M.S. to D.H.Sc.).


RUC is located at Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital (CRCH) in the heart of downtown Roanoke, Virginia’s Innovation Corridor. A former hospital facility, CRCH offers students the chance to learn using innovative equipment in state-of-the-art simulation labs, taught by a faculty of practicing clinicians who teach students to care for patients, conduct research and explore how to manage organizations.

With approximately 330 graduate students among a student body of 1,046, RUC offers a personalized experience to dive into innovative health-focused research, while collaborating with fellow students and faculty in their programs and other graduate programs. This unique approach to interprofessional education allows students to learn not only in classrooms and labs, but also from the professional and personal experiences of their collaborators.

“Our experience with this approach to advanced education has shown that students involved in interdisciplinary education better understand healthcare holistically and appreciate the importance of working together,” said Rebecca McIntyre, D.H.A., program director and assistant professor in the Master of Healthcare Administration program.


“RUC a unique place to learn, because of the low student-to-faculty ratio in a curriculum that is highly integrated into the community with an emphasis on community service,” added Sheila Krajnik, Ed.D., graduate program coordinator and associate professor for the M.O.T. programs. “Our students have the chance to participate in an active learning philosophy that is woven through each course in the curriculum. The depth and breadth of faculty expertise, in all practice areas across the life span, is truly one-of-a-kind.” 

This approach to education is certainly popular among prospective students. RUC enrolled students from 29 states in Fall 2019, and the Physician Assistant (P.A.) and Occupational Therapy programs collectively interviewed hundreds of prospects multiple times each year. The PA program annually receives approximately 1,000 applications for 42 open slots.

The selectivity is intentional, ensuring that RUC enrolls the best of the best students, while maintaining a small community atmosphere.

“RUC is just amazing,” said Briyana Jackson ’18, a graduate of Radford University’s recreation therapy program and now a student in the M.O.T. program at RUC. “What I love most about RUC is the intimacy of the campus. It’s just the right amount of people in just the right location. I feel like we’re one, and I still feel the family atmosphere.”

Kelly Whittaker '18, a graduate from the D.P.T. program at RUC, agreed, saying, “I enjoyed the small class size and the sense of community the Doctor of Physical Therapy program provides with your cohort, the professors and the many medical experience opportunities that are available near the program.”


Chief among those medical experience opportunities is RUC’s close proximity and long-standing partnership with Carilion Clinic, one of the largest healthcare organizations in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Carilion is based in Roanoke, with its flagship facility, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital (CRMH), located about a mile from RUC. CRMH is the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center.

Through Carilion Clinic’s extensive network of facilities in Roanoke and across Southwest Virginia, RUC graduate students have the opportunity to work with a variety of patients and in a multitude of roles as they earn their degrees. From boardrooms where administrators lead the organization to clinics where patients receive hands-on care, students can collaborate and learn from healthcare professionals at what U.S. News & World Report ranks as one of Virginia’s top hospitals.

The connection with Carilion and other healthcare organizations in the region also provides another benefit for RUC students: over 93% of those surveyed reported being employed within six months of graduation. Many graduates ha job offers before graduating, and a significant number go on to work for Carilion Clinic.

For some graduate students, though, convenience is the key. Many are already employed and ready to advance their careers or build upon their existing knowledge in order to explore a new field in healthcare. For those students, there are a number of programs offered at RUC that are either 100% online or mostly online. These include the Doctor of Health Sciences, Master of Health Sciences, Master of Health Sciences to Doctor of Health Sciences (Dual Degree), Master of Healthcare Administration, Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration and Master of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner.

Offering these programs online in a flexible format to fit busy schedules allows students to grow and learn, while still engaging in their careers and contributing to healthcare at a critical time in our country.

“The Nursing Administration program is geared for working nurses,” said Patty Vari, Ph.D., program coordinator and nursing site coordinator for the Nursing Administration program. “Courses are carefully designed, so that issues in the workplace are identified by the students and solutions emerge through completion of the assignments. Upon graduation, students are well-prepared for healthcare management and executive roles.”


An indicator of the success of the personalized, active education offered by RUC’s graduate programs can be seen in the pass rate on national exams. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center reported that graduates from the RUC Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program achieved a 100 percent pass rate on their national exams in Fall 2019, outperforming peers in every tested domain. Each organization administers a competency-based examination that provides a valid and reliable assessment of the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills of nurse practitioners.

“The success these graduates experienced on the national exam shows that we are educating the highest quality and most thoroughly prepared healthcare leaders of tomorrow,” said Milena Staykova, Ed.D., FNP program coordinator at RUC. “We are invested in student success and satisfaction with a personalized approach to understanding each student’s needs.”

The mission of Radford University and RUC is to empower students from diverse backgrounds by providing transformative educational experiences. RUC is doing that each and every day by providing graduate students with the opportunities to continue their lifelong learning experiences, growing to meet the demands of their professions and being driven by what’s next to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Become a healthcare hero at RUC by starting your journey to a graduate degree today.

Apr 27, 2020
Mark Lambert