Radford University Partners with Carilion for New Doctorate Program

Radford President Penelope Kyle addresses media and dignitaries at Wednesday’s news conference. Jefferson College of Health Sciences president NL Bishop looks on from left.

Radford University, Carilion Clinic and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences have announced that RU will base its new Doctorate 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.

“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.”

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.

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