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A Therapeutic Tradition Department of Physical Therapy Newsletter

Spring 2016

Message from the Chair Anybody involved in academic education, clinical education or any aspect of the changing face of health care recognizes that none of it remains static. I have been chair for three years and am constantly watching the growth and development of our students and faculty. It is an adventure. I think every course in the department has evolved into something different in the 25 years since I joined this faculty — even neuroanatomy! (OK, the basic structures are the same, but we know more about almost every structure — even the red nucleus! — and I have to restrain myself to the basics.) It is difficult in every field to decide which concept or technology to add and what can go on the back burner. An intervention valued in one clinic may not be in another, and so the course content is a moving target. Fortunately, today’s students are smart, curious and demanding. They challenge me every year with perspectives I hadn’t thought of before, so sometimes we just point them in the right direction; other times it is a matter of focusing them so that they can see the whole patient. We challenge them to really learn the foundational sciences so they can be critical thinkers as clinicians. The clinical experience continues to provide the final common pathway between the school and success in their professional career. We see that the clinics are feeling more pressure from the increased number of schools in our fair commonwealth and beyond. We are working to find creative solutions. We appreciate the work of all of our wonderful clinics, as well as your guidance through difficult situations. The students return from their rotations energized and excited about their chosen career. As Sue Hirt said, “Our skilled clinicians and our basic scientists must mingle as role models, as preceptors and as classroom teachers.” Miss Hirt spoke about the national trends of physical therapists during her Mary McMillan lecture in 1981: “We are about to certify officially those physical therapists who possess clearly identifiable advanced knowledge and skills in an area of specialization.” She believed that we would “need to establish a firm link between the basic educational process that leads into the profession and those processes that may lead, in a variety of ways, to advanced competencies.” Could she have foreseen the residencies that foster the advanced competencies? It seems fitting that VCU carry forward that idea with the launch of the neurology residency last year and the sports residency this year. Cheryl Ford-Smith leads the neuro residency, and Chad Taylor leads the sports residency, with administrative guidance for both residencies provided by Shawne Soper. We are excited about the opportunities to encourage advanced knowledge and are considering the launch of one or two more residencies. Part of our mission, ever since the Baruch grant for physical medicine and rehabilitation in 1944, has always been to develop new faculty and encourage discovery. Teacher-scholars need to be doctorally trained, and there is a critical need for such faculty, particularly with so many new programs. We try to identify and find ways to support promising physical therapists as they transition from the DPT to advanced doctoral education. We also welcome alumni to collaborate on translational research projects. Our university mission demands that we have a strong research mentality, and we don’t shrink from it. —Mary Shall, PT, Ph.D.

As you realize, we have not sent a newsletter in a while! This edition is packed with stories that will catch you up on our student and faculty activities. We would like to gather email addresses from our alumni in hopes of delivering this newsletter electronically in the future. Please see the request on Page 7. We enjoy hearing from you and hope that you will send us your news via the link on our website at And of course you can also follow us on Facebook: VCU Physical Therapy – School of Allied Health Professions.

Artist rendering of the new School of Allied Health Professions building.

Contents School of Allied Health Professions’ New Home


The Future of Clinical Education


Marquette Challenge


VCU PT Hosts Shoes4Kids Drive


Innovation Rewarded


VCU PT Residency Development


Summer Professional Programs


Pro Bono PT at Student-Run Clinic


Counselors at Camp Bruce McCoy


Mission Trips Make an Impact


VCU at the National Student Conclave


NEXT and Capitol Hill Day with VCU PT


Robert Lamb Distinguished Lecture


VCU Wins VPTA Leadership Positions


Awards and Scholarships


Faculty Projects


In Memoriam


3rd Annual White Coat Ceremony


Graduation 2015

25 Spring 2016 | 1

The new building is designed to facilitate learning in a collaborative manner by all the disciplines within the school.

School of Allied Health Professions’ New Home As I celebrate my 30th year at VCU Physical Therapy, I look back and realize that in that time period, we’ve moved from South Hospital to McGuire Hall and finally to West Hospital. Each was an improvement (some may remember the ceiling plaster falling on students in South Hospital, which also had places you “weren’t supposed to walk on”), but we’ve never had a home that included the other health programs in the School of Allied Health Professions. Well, I have exciting news — a new building for the SAHP is VCU’s No. 1 building priority. Phase I was a preliminary design by an architectural firm. In Phase II, VCU contracted with another firm to develop a concept design for the new building. This is almost finished, and the floor plans are being finalized now. As planned, the building would be 154,000 square feet and contain eight floors. All nine SAHP departments, the dean’s office and the Center for Aging would be housed in the building. The Department of Physical Therapy is currently slated to occupy the entire fourth floor. It would 2 | A Therapeutic Tradition

be located where the low-rise dormitories are currently situated on Leigh and 10th streets. This is next to the N deck/bookstore and very close to the new School of Nursing building. For Phase III, the next step of the process, the building’s concept design was presented to the VCU Board of Visitors, and the entire proposal has been submitted to the state for funding. We are very excited at the prospect of a brand-new building that we have helped design from the beginning. This will bring to our department modern educational technology; student lecture, study and lounge facilities; clinical laboratories; simulation resources (such as hospital rooms and simulated apartments); faculty research laboratories; and lots of windows. I assure you, this will be heartily welcomed by those of us who have spent the past 19 years in the basement of West Hospital. We look forward to updating you on this exciting development in the near future. —Thomas Mayhew, PT, Ph.D. Spring 2016 | 3

Blaire Chandler, Class of 2016, with instructor and Sports Medicine PT Chad Taylor.

The Future of Clinical Education An interview with Emma Wheeler, director of clinical education, VCU Department of Physical Therapy

As every PT is aware, although the didactic learning in a PT curriculum occurs in the classroom, the practical experiences provided during clinical internships are vital for our students to make the transition into becoming therapists. We appreciate our clinical partners and our clinical instructors who are helping make this possible. There are many changes happening in the world of physical therapy clinical education. We decided to sit down with Emma Wheeler, PT, DPT, director of clinical education, to find out what is happening nationally and how these trends are affecting the VCU Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Q: Describe the Clinical Education Program at VCU. A: DPT students complete five full-time clinical internships. The first experience is two weeks in duration and occurs mostly in local acute-care hospitals during the spring semester of the first academic year. The second full-time experience is eight weeks in duration and occurs in the summer between the second and third year. The final three internships are all eight weeks in duration and occur back to back in the fall and spring semesters of the third and final year in the program. Q: What is new in VCU Clinical Education? A: We are now using a new clinical education software program called Exxat to notify sites of student assignments and for recruitment of future slots. All VCU DPT students create a profile in Exxat that includes a personal statement, learning objectives and medical documentation, as well as information about their educational history and learning style. A link to this profile is sent out to the Clinical Instructors and CCCEs prior to the start of the internship. This new electronic format has been well received by both students and CIs. VCU PT is part of the Mid-Atlantic Clinical Education Consortium. All DPT and PTA school members in this group have agreed to solicit slots only one calendar year in advance of the request. For example, the APTA’s agreed-upon national mailing date for requesting internship slots is March 1. Therefore, on March 1, 2016, VCU contacted you to ask for internship slots extending through the calendar year 2017. I would encourage you not to assign students any earlier. Hopefully, if we all abide by these rules, it will protect clinicians from getting requests multiple years out when you are unsure of your needs or staffing. 4 | A Therapeutic Tradition

Q: What changes do you see in the future for VCU DPT clinical education? A: Many schools have moved to longer DPT student internships lasting 12 weeks, 16 weeks or even longer. VCU is collecting information now to determine if this is a direction that we will pursue. Advantages of longer internships include less time spent in orientation activities by the faculties and the student becoming a more productive member of the team. I would also like to see more clinics explore collaborative models in which two students are paired with one clinical instructor. Q: What is happening nationally and locally in physical therapy clinical education? A: One of the biggest challenges we are facing nationally is the shortage of available rotation sites for DPT students who need to do internships. This is due in part to the rapid development of many new PT programs — Virginia now has nine of them — and the expansion of existing programs, which has caused at least a 40 percent increase in the number of clinical placements needed from 2013 to 2016. Coupled with pressure for productivity from employers, this is a problem now faced by all of us on a national level. Following a national summit on clinical education in the fall of 2014, several study groups and committees have been formed to help address this issue, with the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy leading this effort. In fact, ACAPT has asked our own faculty member Shawne Soper, PT, DPT, to coordinate this national effort. Q: What would you like to say to your Clinical Instructors? A: First, I want to say a big thank you to all who support our program by taking VCU DPT students for both full- and part-time internships. You are a big part of creating the next generation of physical therapists. We are proud to graduate many excellent students who can start their practice in the commonwealth (or in any state) without excessive student loans. This is in large part due to your support of our program, and we appreciate you! Second, the APTA offers a Clinical Instructor credentialing course that is an excellent way to improve your teaching skills and learn how to manage students of all levels. You can find more information about the program online at Many of the CIs who have taken advantage of this learning opportunity report that it was very helpful, and they wish they had taken the course sooner. Spring 2016 | 5

VCU students from the classes of 2016 and 2017 measured a lot of kids’ feet at the Shoes4Kids event! Pictured are several of the students who participated – left to right: Kim D’Angelo, Greg Mitro, Jessica Napoleon, Lauren Bussian, Gabrielle Hermann, Andrew Felts, Greg Banks, Alyssa Connifey, Laurie Price, Morgan Toland, Elizabeth Torrence

Students Caroline Owen (Class of 2017), Lauryl Andrus (Class of 2017) and Doug Eck (Class of 2016) point out VCU’s phenomenal 2nd place finish in the 2015 Miami Marquette Challenge

Marquette Challenge For the past 11 years, VCU PT students have competed in the Marquette Challenge, a nationwide competition to raise money for the Foundation for Physical Therapy. This nonprofit supports scientific, clinical and health-services research related to physical therapy. In previous years, the foundation has provided grants for research in stroke rehabilitation, mobility improvement for children with cerebral palsy and innovative treatments for patients with low-back pain. This research affects members of communities across the nation — with VCU seeing many of these benefits firsthand — and aims to improve and advance the profession of physical therapy. Thanks to the generosity of many alumni and friends, this past year the VCU Department of Physical Therapy had its most successful showing in the Marquette Challenge, raising over $24,300, which placed us second among a record-breaking 145 schools that participated. We are honored to be able to play such an important role in furthering the foundation’s mission. This year also vaults us over the $100,000 mark for cumulative giving, placing us in the Cornerstone Society and distinguishing VCU’s PT program as one of the top five schools in the nation for cumulative giving to the foundation. The funds raised came from a handful of generous donors and the profits from numerous events held throughout the year, including corn-hole tournaments, a student/alumni night at the ballpark with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, apparel sales and our charity golf tournament hosted just outside of Richmond every year in April. The student body would like to thank everyone who played a part in this year’s success. Without their hard work and generosity, none of this would have been possible. To help VCU meet its goal of placing first in 2016, please donate on behalf of VCU students by visiting —Douglas Eck, President of the Class of 2016 6 | A Therapeutic Tradition

VCU PT Hosts Shoes4Kids Drive The VCU Department of Physical Therapy was lucky to be chosen as the host for the 2015 Shoes4Kids shoe drive. Founded by Brad Thuringer, a PTA with a big heart and a great idea, Shoes4kids has provided over 9,500 pairs of new athletic shoes and socks to underprivileged children around the U.S. since its start in 2006. The shoe drive is an annual event held in conjunction with the NEXT conference put on by the American Physical Therapy Association. It allows the APTA to encourage physical activity in children while giving back to the community hosting the national conference. Each year, a different physical therapy school is chosen to lead the effort. Email addresses This year, VCU did a wonderful job leading the drive, gathering about 1,300 pairs of shoes. The collection Our intent is to transition this process was organized by assistant professor Shawne to an electronic newsletter. Soper, PT, DPT, who fearlessly managed to keep track If you didn’t receive this of all of the shoes, coordinate with the children’s social newsletter in your inbox, workers and buy out every Walmart shoe department then we don’t have a current in sight. Students also helped with the drive, putting email address for you. Please together several events to raise money. From a Chipotle help us stay in touch by percentage night to a donation-based cycling class, the sending your email address students ensured that fundraising process was a lot of to fun. Physical therapy schools around the nation also graciously helped and donated hundreds of shoes. We were lucky to have so much involvement! The actual event was held in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 6. The children and families in attendance were from New Hope Housing, a nonprofit committed to aiding underserved families in Northern Virginia. We had approximately 30 volunteers there to help size, fit and distribute the shoes to over 1,000 individuals. It was a long day, but the experience was tremendously rewarding, and the student and faculty volunteers kept spirits high while making a lot of kids and families very happy. —Delanie Alphin, Vice President of the Class of 2016 Spring 2016 | 7

Innovation Rewarded

VCU PT Residency Development

Peter Pidcoe, PT, DPT, Ph.D., and Thubi Kolobe, PT, Ph.D., FAPTA, created the infant crawling assist robot (SIPPC), one of 13 inventions from companies, universities, government agencies and independent inventors selected by a juried panel for participation in the Innovation Festival at the Smithsonian and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The festival was held on Sept. 26-27 at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Pidcoe was also recently recognized as the VCU Inventor of the Year, receiving the 2015 Billy R. Martin Innovation Award for this work.

The VCU Department of Physical Therapy, VCU Health System and Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital collaborated to create the VCU-SA Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program. The program launched in May 2014, accepting its first resident, Lindsay Derenthal, PT, DPT, and became accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education in April 2015. The program involves one year of intensive study, mentored practice and teaching, with residents spending six months in the Sheltering Arms system and six months in the VCU system. Upon completion, the resident is prepared to sit for the neurological clinical specialist exam. The demand for residency education is growing exponentially within the physical therapy profession. Many of our students report that they intend to pursue a residency to gain additional depth of knowledge and experience. Recognizing this, VCU has also developed a Sports PT Residency. The sports residency program, which is directed by Chad Taylor, PT, DPT, ATC, SCS, is offered in cooperation with VCU Health System and VCU Sports Medicine. The program has been approved for candidacy status, an important step on the path to accreditation, and the first sports resident will be admitted in August 2016. If you’re interested in applying to a VCU residency program, please visit the ABPTRFE website at

Feature articles and videos describing Pidcoe and Kolobe’s invention and how it is changing the lives of children are available at the following links: • • •

From left: Carrie Roth, president/CEO of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park; VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.; Peter Pidcoe, PT, D.P.T., Ph.D; Ivelina Metcheva, Ph.D., executive director of VCU Innovation Gateway; and Francis Macrina, Ph.D., vice president of research and innovation, celebrate Pidcoe’s award at Innovation Gateway’s 10th annual reception. 8 | A Therapeutic Tradition

Summer Professional Programs The Department of Physical Therapy, with the support of the Division of Health Sciences Diversity, participates in three summer programs, each of which is coordinated by Dr. Cheryl Ford-Smith, PT, DPT. • The Summer Academic Enrichment Program (SAEP) is an intensive, six-week inter-professional residential program designed to enhance the academic preparation of junior and senior undergraduate students and post-baccalaureate students who are actively pursuing enrollment in a health professions school. Participants are divided among Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and Physical Therapy tracks, but students work together as inter-professional teams while gaining intimate knowledge of their prospective specialties. This past summer, SAEP students The 2015 cohort of SAEP provided services to the homeless. (To read a Richmond program participants. Times-Dispatch article on this effort, visit jubynu3.) • Health Professions Career Exploration (HPCE) is a two-week, nonresidential program designed to expose college freshmen, sophomores and juniors to the diverse professional paths within each of our nine health-sciences disciplines within the VCU School of Allied Health Professions. Participating students also engage in professional development workshops. • The Physical Therapy Career Exploration Program (PTCEP) is a two-week nonresidential program that teaches high school sophomores, juniors and seniors about the career opportunities available in the physical therapy profession. All of these programs help to garner a diverse student population for the VCU School of Physical Therapy and the profession as a whole. For more information, visit /pipeline-programs. Spring 2016 | 9

Counselors at Camp Bruce McCoy This past May, several VCU students worked as camp counselors at Camp Bruce McCoy, run by the Brain Injury Association of Virginia for adults who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Having just taken neuroanatomy, we thought it would be a great way to gain hands-on experience working with a complex population we will likely be seeing later in a clinical setting. The camp provided us with a challenging, engaging, tiring, eye-opening and memorable week. We witnessed a wide range of functional abilities in the campers. Some had trouble forming sentences and required a lot of assistance with bathing and toileting, while others were lively and articulate. Many use a wheelchair as their primary form of mobility, and almost all of the campers had some short-term memory deficits. One camper explained that his brain injury was caused by a stroke he suffered during surgery to remove a benign tumor on the left side of his frontal lobe, and that he now has weakness in his dorsiflexors on the right side. This would not have even made sense to us had we not just taken neuroanatomy. Despite the differences in mental and physical abilities among various campers, one common denominator was that they all seemed to be having fun participating in leisure activities such as canoeing, horseback riding, archery, high-ropes courses, fishing and crafting. Between participating in these pursuits ourselves and essentially acting as 24-hour caretakers, we were completely exhausted by the end of the week. We now have a deep appreciation for the hard work of family members and aides who care for these TBI survivors year-round, and it felt good to help provide them with a respite, even if it was only for a week. We hope to return to Camp Bruce McCoy in the future to work with the campers and counselors we were privileged to meet this past May, and we encourage others in the VCU DPT program to join us. —Clay Rainie and Patrick Russo, Class of 2017

VCU students from the classes of 2016 and 2017 attended a conference hosted by Widener University to learn how to develop and operate a student-led pro bono clinic. Front row left to right Gabrielle Hermann, A J Cushman, Bethany Labrecque, John Buchwald, Samantha DeAlto. Middle row: Sarah Nockengost, Lauryl Andrus. Back row: Laurie Price, William Riddick, Kailee Karst, Erica Stowe, Bobbie Davey, Alison Owens, Kelly Parker, Kelly Hainline

Pro Bono PT at Student-Run Clinic Excitement is growing as we prepare to launch our first pro-bono physical-therapy clinic run by students. In August 2015 we officially became a student organization — the Community Accessible Rehabilitative Exercise Services Clinic at VCU — and we are currently touring possible locations for our facility near campus. While the clinic will be supervised by VCU faculty and other therapists from the Richmond area, the bulk of both its administrative and therapeutic jobs will be performed by teams of students. In addition to utilizing student volunteers, we have created a student board designated to follow through on specific tasks in the clinic. The students’ immediate goal is to have the CARES Clinic available to uninsured and under-insured patients within the 2015-16 academic year. Long-term goals include opportunities for developing interdisciplinary skills as we form interdepartmental relationships. Furthermore, treating patients in the clinic will provide information and data appropriate for student and faculty research. We are very interested in support from our VCU alumni in the form of clinical supervisors, donations of supplies or financial contributions. If you are interested in helping, we can be reached by email at

Counselors and staff gathered at Camp Bruce McCoy.

Stay involved

Are you interested in taking a VCU student? Would you like to serve as a supervising clinician in the student-run pro bono clinic? Would you like to attend our continuing-education events? Would you like to serve on a focus group? Let us know of your interest by contacting Shawne Soper at, and we will connect you. Our network of alumni is incredibly important to us and our success!

—Bobbie Davey, 2017 Class Treasurer 10 | A Therapeutic Tradition

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Students from the class of 2016 McCaul Benson, Leah Batten, Katie Zweier, and Teresa Caro during their mission trip to Ghana.

Mission Trips Make an Impact As physical therapy students and health care providers alike, it is safe to say that we are determined individuals who aspire to make a difference in our patients’ lives. During my first year at VCU, the second-year students presented a slideshow of information and pictures from a mission trip they took to Ghana. I was immediately hooked. A class full of big hearts and helping hands all jumped at the opportunity to make a difference with our newly acquired skills. Following an application process, four physical therapy students from the first-year class were selected for the trip, in addition to 12 medical students, two pharmacy students, and a group of physicians, nurses and physical therapists. Throughout the entire year leading up to our trip to Africa, we met at least every other week to plan it as a completely student-run effort — making reservations, pinning down daily details, organizing clinic components and creating lesson plans for the public-health outreach component. We spent two weeks in Ghana, providing medical care to rural and underdeveloped communities in the Volta region during the first week and devoting the second week to publichealth education at five schools, where we discussed a wide range of health-related topics with students ranging in age from toddlers to 18-year-olds. Traveling to any country outside the United States, particularly those in underdeveloped areas, can be an eye-opening experience, even before you add in the challenges of applying very new, minimally practiced PT skills at medical clinics. We had two licensed physical therapists supervising us, teaching us new skills along the way and taking the lead when necessary. Before I left for the trip, a friend told me to remember that I can’t change the world in two 12 | A Therapeutic Tradition

weeks, but if I help just one person, that is a start. I reminded myself of this every day. There were still moments when I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, but I allowed my intuition to take over, and I truly believe we made a difference in the communities we served. By focusing on the education of children and our patients, we built a sustainable program, while also providing new school supplies to the five schools we visited, as well as water filters to deliver clean water to an entire village and its school. While I like to focus on the impact we made on the people we met and worked with, I would be lying if I said they did not have an effect on me, too. One of the best things about going on a medical mission trip is seeing the beauty of other cultures. I met the kindest, warmest and happiest people in Ghana, people who would have given me the shirt off their back despite not having another to wear themselves. Many of those I met possessed very few material things, but they cherished those things they did have — their family, their friends, their health and their faith. This past summer, a group of second-year PT students traveled with medical students and various health care providers to the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Peru, providing medical care and education to underdeveloped areas. Regardless of the trip you take, the care you provide or the people you meet, I think mission trips are a wonderful way to have an impact on the lives of those in medically underserved populations. They also deliver wonderful learning opportunities that I believe will only make us better clinicians while we’re working right here in our own backyard. —McCaul Benson, Class of 2016 Spring 2016 | 13

NEXT and Capitol Hill Day with VCU PT

Over the past few years, VCU has been stepping up the student presence at national conferences. Of particular interest to students is the National Student Conclave. In October 2014, 11 VCU DPT students attended the National Student Conclave of the American Physical Therapy Association in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All of the students were attending the NSC for the first time. Highlights included opportunities for career development, such as a résumé workshop; a panel about residencies; PT-PAC night on Halloween; and a seminar about pro-bono work that sparked Bobbie Davey to initiate VCU’s own pro-bono clinic. The National Student Conclave closed with a moving speech from keynote speaker Scott Chesney, a world-traveling life coach and motivational speaker who resolved to live his life to the fullest after awakening to paralysis when he was 15 years old. The VCU DPT students left the NSC more knowledgeable and inspired to be more involved within our profession. Last year’s National Student Conclave was held in Omaha, Nebraska, from Oct. 22-24. Once again, VCU was strongly represented, with 17 students enjoying action-packed days full of networking with other students from across the country. The first night of the conference kicked off the Pittsburgh-Marquette Challenge, and VCU was recognized for coming in second place the previous year. During educational sessions, students learned about how to be present in social media, upcoming orthopedic techniques and how to look at pain differently, all while broadening their clinical reasoning skills. By the end of the trip, VCU attendees had made new connections and gathered a lot more knowledge than they had when they arrived.

The weekend of June 3-6, 2015, was packed full of exciting learning, networking and advocacy events during the APTA NEXT conference in National Harbor. With over 30 students receiving funds from the department in order to attend the conference, there was a very large VCU presence. The conference started off with an opening ceremony featuring tennis legend Billie Jean King. During the talk-show-style event, she spoke about her personal experiences with physical therapists, noting that it takes a special VCU students from the class of 2017 preparing visit their congressional repretype of person to do the sentatives, educating them on how PT transforms society. Front row: Sarah work that we do. The educaHeavilon, Jessica Napoleon, Morgan Toland, Elizabeth Torrence, Sam DeAlto, tional programming during Gabrielle Hermann; Back row: Teri Draper, Caroline Owen, Kim Dangelo, Lauryl the conference focused Andrus, Eric Douquette, Kelly Hainline. Natalie Blanton, Dorothy Beatty on a few areas of interest, specifically pediatrics, geriatrics, the female athlete and professional issues. The Mary McMillen Lecture given by Lynn Snyder-Mackler was especially interesting, as it focused on the importance of being both a clinician and a scientist, as well as maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Throughout the weekend there were many networking opportunities, including the VCU alumni happy hour. It was great to connect with faculty members and former VCU students and hear about how the program has grown over the years. The happy hour also celebrated the life of Steve Levine, a VCU alum who passed away in early March. It was a beautiful tribute to his life, which was dedicated to the APTA. One of the highlights of the weekend was attending the Foundation for Physical Therapy Gala. VCU was well represented, with three tables of students and faculty to celebrate our second-place award in the Marquette Challenge. It was a fun night of dancing, and believe it or not, Thomas Mayhew, PT, Ph.D., didn’t leave the dance floor! This year, the conference also coincided with Capitol Hill Day. To prepare for our meetings with members of Congress, we attended an information session where we learned about the important legislative issues facing the physical therapy profession today, including repealing the therapy cap, recognizing physical therapists as health care professionals qualified to make return-to-play decisions following concussions in youth sports and including physical therapy under Medicare Locum Tenens. After an exciting rally on the steps of the Capitol, we broke off into groups to speak to our Virginia representatives. What did we want? COSPONSORSHIP! When did we want it? NOW! It was a great experience to be on the front lines advocating for the future of our profession, and we look forward to more opportunities to be involved. For many of the first-year students, this was our first APTA conference. At the end of the weekend, we were all exhausted but also inspired as new members of a large community of physical therapists and physical therapy students all striving to provide the best possible patient care while still having a great time.

—Anisha Rijhwani, APTA Representative, Class of 2016, and Lauryl Andrus and Caroline Owen, Class of 2017

—Caroline Owen, APTA Representative, Class of 2017

The VCU students were inspired by the presentation from Scott Chesney at the National Student Conclave. Students from the classes of 2016 and 2017 clockwise from bottom: Bobbie Davey, Leah Chaphe, Mary Bernardo, Sarah Kibiloski, McCaul Benson, Delanie Alphin, Anisha Rijhwani, AJ Cushman

VCU at the National Student Conclave

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Spring 2016 | 15

Awards and Scholarships Lewis and Violet Childers Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship recognizes a student dedicated to providing care in a rural setting. It is renewable annually for each subsequent year of study. 2014: Kelly Parker, Class of 2017

Robert Lamb presents Kelley Fitzgerald with the Distinguished Lecture award.

2015: Lauren Luttrell, Class of 2018 Ella Miller, Class of 2016

Robert Lamb Distinguished Lecture The Robert Lamb Distinguished Lecture award was established in 2012 to recognize an individual who has made significant contributions to the physical-therapy profession, particularly in the area of research. The recipient is invited to give a lecture to the VCU faculty, students and area clinicians. This year’s Lamb Lecture was delivered by G. Kelley Fitzgerald, PT, Ph.D., FAPTA, professor and associate dean of graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Fitzgerald’s presentation, entitled “Exercise, Manual Therapy and Use of Booster Sessions in Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis: Experience from a Multicenter Randomized Trial,” received very positive reviews from attendees for delivering clinically relevant information that’s directly applicable to practice.

VCU Wins VPTA Leadership Positions Seven VCU PT students ran for and won positions on the Virginia Physical Therapy Association Student Special Interest Group in March, serving for the 2015-16 school year. The SSIG exists as the liaison between the VPTA and all PT and PTA programs within the state, with responsibilities including planning the annual VPTA Student Conclave, organizing student involvement in Lobby Day with the Virginia General Assembly each winter and serving as a resource for students throughout the state. The VCU students currently serving on the SSIG board include: Sarah Nockengost, vice-chair; McCaul Benson, secretary; Douglas Eck, director; Lauryl Andrus, liaison; Anisha Rijhwani, nominating committee; Natalie Blanton, nominating committee; and Greg Banks, chair. “I firmly believe that the best way to secure and protect our future career in the ever-changing world of health care is to support our professional association, both locally and nationally,” said SSIG vice-chair Sarah Nockengost. “I chose to become involved in the SSIG with the hopes of sharing my enthusiasm with my fellow students, and to use this leadership role as a platform for encouraging my future colleagues across the state to continuously support our professional association, so we will have the opportunity to keep doing what we love to do as physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.” With so many students involved in this year’s SSIG board, VCU will continue to lead as one of the prominent PT programs in the state, demonstrating a commitment to the development of the profession. For more information on VCU’s involvement and the role of the SSIG, visit its page through —Greg Banks, VPTA Representative, Class of 2016

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A special thank you to the donors who make these scholarships and awards possible. Your support enables us to provide them annually.

The A.D. Williams Award

This award is given annually to one second-year student and one third-year student who demonstrate high scholastic achievement and professional performance, as well as unusual promise and ability to contribute to the profession. 2014: Lanie Alphin, Class of 2016; Calli Stehl, Class of 2015 2015: Bethany Labrecque, Class of 2017; McCaul Benson, Class of 2016

Cindy Gouldin Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship honors Cindy Gouldin, a 1987 graduate of our program who died from a brain tumor in 2003. Her family established it to recognize students who demonstrate outstanding volunteer service, a quality that was a hallmark of Cindy’s life. 2014: Douglas Eck, Class of 2016; Kaitlin Galvin, Class of 2015 2015: Barbara Davey, Class of 2017; Sarah Nockengost, Class of 2016

M. Scott Sullivan Memorial Scholarship

Named in honor of our faculty colleague and friend Scott Sullivan, who died suddenly in 1998, this award recognizes a second-year student for professional involvement in the American Physical Therapy Association or the Virginia Physical Therapy Association. 2014: Sarah Nockengost, Class of 2016 2015: Lauryl Andrus, Class of 2017

Jules Rothstein Scholarships

Awarded to two students in the third-year class, these scholarships are named for an iconic and influential physical therapist researcher and teacher who served on the VCU faculty from 1984 to 1991. His professional legacy was challenging us to find evidence for the care that we provide. 2014: Rhian Lutcher McCann and Chad Goudy, Class of 2015 2015: Douglas Eck and Sarah Nockengost, Class of 2016

Marianne E. “Mac” McDonald Award

This award honors a dedicated faculty member who served the department from 1964 to 1992. In addition to her outstanding teaching, Mac has always been known for her compassionate and caring personality, and this award honors a student from the third-year class who shares those important values. 2014: Alicia Kohn, Class of 2015 2015: Alexandra Cushman, Class of 2016

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Awards and Scholarships Marjorie Champion Salamone award

Established by the Class of 2002 to honor a classmate’s mother who died during the September 11 attack on the Pentagon, this is a character-based award granted to a third-year student who emulates the values of the award’s namesake, specifically concern for their fellow man and willingness to give of one’s time and talent to the overall benefit of individuals and society. 2014: Rebekkah Corkey, Class of 2015 2015: Katherine Laffoon, Class of 2016

National Awards

Outstanding Clinical Instructor Awards Carlton Jones Award for Outstanding Clinical Teaching

This award is named for a physical therapist who served as a staff PT and clinical instructor at MCV hospital and later, on the PT academic faculty. The award was established to recognize the outstanding contributions of our clinical instructors. 2014: Jeff Leatherman from North Carolina and in practice at PT of the Triad Maria Magcumot-Black from Williamsburg Regional Medical Center Chad Taylor, a member of our faculty who treats patients at VCU Sports Medicine Matthew Brennan from All About Care Danene Brown from Lawrence Rehab John Dodd from CJW Sports Medicine Ashley Kane from Augusta Health Kristen Park from Hilltop Physical Therapy Heather Preast from INOVA Ashburn Melise Rowan from Progress Physical Therapy Dave Volkringer from Atlantic Physical Therapy Dawn Voros from Colonial Orthopedics Sandip Vyas from INOVA Sportsplex Center 2015: Brandon Sheets from Durham VA Medical Center Lucas Johnson from Atlantic Physical Therapy Alison Synakowski from Sports Physical Therapy of New York Julie Seabury from the Hand Management Center at VCU Hospital Rodney Bradley from Lexington Court Rehabilitation and Healthcare Meghan Swenck from VCU Health System Mark Bouziane from Retreat Doctors’ Hospital Eric Ritchie from Medical Facilities of America’s Hanover Health and Rehabilitation Center (awarded posthumously)

Daniel L. Riddle, PT, Ph.D., FAPTA, was awarded the Marian Williams Award for Research in Physical Therapy from the APTA. The award recognizes outstanding basic clinical research and/ or educational research that pertains to physical therapy, sustained for at least 10 years, and makes a meaningful contribution to the scientific basis of physical therapy.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 2011 to recognize a VCU graduate who has made significant contributions to the field of physical therapy over the course of their career. Martha Clendenin, PT, Ph.D., from the Class of 1965 was the 2015 recipient of the award, which she received at her 50-year class reunion in April. The recipient for 2016 is Marianne “Mac” McDonald (left). Mac was a faculty member from 1964 to 1992 and has been a longtime supporter of the program. Past Recipients 2011: Doris Estelle 2012: Charles Smith, PT

18 | A Therapeutic Tradition

2013: Elmora Allen, PT, MS 2014: Leslie Portney, PT, DPT, Ph.D., FAPTA

Thomas Mayhew, PT, Ph.D., won the Lucy Blair Service Award in June of 2014 from the American Physical Therapy Association. The award recognizes outstanding service to the organization at the state or national level. Spring 2016 | 19

Faculty Projects Daniel L. Riddle, PT, Ph.D. Riddle is nearing the end of year three of his five-year National Institutes of Health-funded multisite randomized clinical trial for a pain-coping physical-therapist-delivered intervention for persons undergoing knee replacement surgery. Recruitment is going well, with 90 percent of his target reached. As of January 2015, he had published a total of five peer-reviewed papers in Physiotherapy Canada, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, the Journal of Rheumatology, and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. Peter Pidcoe, PT, DPT, Ph.D. Pidcoe is completing a grant funded by the VCU Quest for Distinction titled “Developing an Interdepartmental Cross-Campus Model for Entrepreneurial Development of Clinical Tools: Testing the Commercially Supported R&D Model of the Future.” The funding supported the revision of a robotic gait trainer designed to treat patients who have suffered stroke, traumatic brain injury, limb loss or spinal-cord injury to recover functional ambulation. In addition, he just received notice of funding from the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund for a project titled “Rehab Fingerprint — A Patient Centered System to Measure the Impact of Physical Rehabilitation.” This project is to design a patient tracking system that will monitor exercise/activity dose during the rehabilitation process. It is hoped that this information will assist the therapist in treatment decisions and improve patient outcomes. Additionally, one student from Pidcoe’s lab recently received his Ph.D., and Pidcoe published a paper in the International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation this past year. Stacey Dusing, PT, Ph.D., PCS This has been a productive and rewarding year for the Motor Development Lab at VCU, directed by Dusing. The research team completed a feasibility study of a novel intervention for infants born preterm, Supporting Play Exploration and Early Development Intervention. The team found that parents were eager and willing to collaborate with a physical therapist to provide daily intervention for their infant starting in the NICU and continuing at home immediately after discharge. Parents reported improved interactions with their infants and greater understanding of the importance of development after participating in SPEEDI. The result of the feasibility study was published in Pediatric Physical Therapy in the Summer 2015 issue. Recruitment is almost complete for a larger initial efficacy study of SPEEDI funded by the Foundation of Physical Therapy and the Children’s Hospital Foundation. Starting July 2015, Dusing will lead one of four national sites participating in a multicenter clinical trial of Sitting Together And Reaching To Play, or START-PLAY, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the Department of Education. This trial will look at the efficacy of targeted interventions to improve developmental outcomes in young children with motor impairments. The work of the Motor Development Lab continues to expand our knowledge of who is at the greatest risk for disabilities and provide evidence for interventions to enhance developmental outcomes in infants born preterm, with brain injury or with motor impairments.

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Faculty Projects Mary Shall PT, Ph.D. Shall collaborates with Jonathan Isaacs, M.D., from the Division of Hand Surgery. They have just been funded by the DOD to study the use of Follistatin to treat reinnervated muscle. The study arises from the clinical observation of servicemen after denervation injury in the field. Emergency care is administered on site, and later, back home, the limb is surgically repaired, leading to reinnervation. However, the muscles never regain more than 50 percent of their original strength. The study explores the use of an anabolic steroid in therapeutically maximizing the compromised muscle fibers during reinnervation. Shall’s role is the analysis of muscle fiber types. Emma Wheeler, PT, DPT, MS The Virginia Geriatric Education Center was awarded a grant for $850,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program for five years. Wheeler is a core faculty member on the grant whose purpose is to provide health education to faculty with the goal of improving care for older adults. Benjamin Darter, PT, Ph.D. Darter recently completed data collection in a collaborative study conducted at Walter Reed examining gait adaptability in persons with lower limb amputation. Results were presented during a symposium at the World Congress of the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics. Data collection continues in other studies investigating the effect of impaired ankle function on gait adaptation, and on the ability of veterans with traumatic amputation to return to work. Darter is also part of a Salt Lake City, Utah-based team approved to conduct the first percutaneous osseointegration procedure in the United States. The procedure seeks to overcome the limitations of prosthetic sockets by allowing a prosthetic leg to attach directly to the external portion of an implant inserted into the bone of the residual limb. The first surgery took place in December 2015, and Darter’s role is to help develop the rehabilitation program and assess functional outcomes. Sheryl Finucane, PT, Ph.D. Collaborating with Lori Michener, Ph.D., Joseph Kardouni, Ph.D., and others, Finucane is examining the effect of thoracic spinal manipulation on pain sensitivity and kinematics of patients with subacromial impingement syndrome. Results were published in Manual Therapy and the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. Finucane also presented the results of a study evaluating teaching methods to improve competency in geriatric PT at the APTA combined sections meeting. Shawne Soper, PT, DPT, MBA Soper is collaborating with Drs. Finucane, Mayhew and Wheeler on a project assessing the value of observation hours required for admission to the DPT program. Initial findings were presented at the Education Leadership Conference in October 2015.

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Faculty Projects Dixie H. Bowman, PT, DPT, Ed.D. Bowman continues her research on the utilization of standardized patients during competency testing. Her paper, entitled “Inter-rater Agreement on Final Competency Testing Utilizing Standardized Patients,” has been accepted by the Journal of Allied Health. She also gave a poster presentation on “SelfAssessment by Physical Therapy Students on Laboratory Practical Examinations” at the Educational Leadership conference on Oct. 2, 2015. D.S. Blaise Williams III, PT, Ph.D. Williams has completed data collection and analysis for a community-based study that attempts to understand movement and injury patterns in recreational runners training for a half marathon. Preliminary findings have been presented at the Southeast ACSM meeting, the National ACSM meeting and the Combined Sections Meeting of the APTA. Williams has mentored two Ph.D. students, a DPT student researcher, eight undergraduate kinesiology interns, two medical students and a visiting graduate student from William & Mary over the past year. Collaborative research between Williams and colleagues in physical therapy, kinesiology and engineering at various institutions has resulted in grants submitted to the NIH, NFL Charities and VCU CCTR. Williams received a grant from VCU CCTR to study the effects of normal aging on mechanical patterns and injuries in older male runners. Data collection for this grant is in its beginning stages. Williams had 17 peerreviewed abstracts, seven invited presentations and four published manuscripts from his current and previous work. Thomas Mayhew, PT, Ph.D. Mayhew’s research continues to look at determinants of success in Doctor of Physical Therapy education. Last year, he presented a poster at the Education Leadership Conference on “The Use of the Practice Exam and Assessment Tool (PEAT) to Predict Student Success on the National Physical Therapy Examination.” This year, he presented a poster at the same conference in October on “Pre-admission Physical Therapy Observation Hours as a Predictor of Doctor of Physical Therapy Outcome Measures.”

New Faculty Chad Taylor, PT, DPT, ATC, SCS An assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Dr. Taylor earned his MS PT in 2001 and his transitional DPT in 2007. Board certified in sports physical therapy, he is also an ATC and a member of the APTA sports section. He sees patients at VCU Sports Medicine, and Dr. Taylor is one of the faculty members who teaches orthopedic physical therapy in the department.

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In Memoriam Otto D. Payton, Ph.D. Otto D. Payton, Ph.D., former faculty member and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, died Sept. 4, 2014, at age 84. He was a member of the department’s faculty for 28 years and served as chair from 1982 to 1987. Payton was regarded as an exceptional physical therapist, teacher and researcher. He was internationally known as a lecturer and author, as well as for his expertise in geriatrics, the psychosocial aspectsof patient care and higher education. He came to VCU as the director of the Department of Physical Therapy’s master’s degree program in 1971. During this time, he organized the Master of Science program and began two combined doctoral programs with the departments of Anatomy and Physiology that were nationally recognized for producing strong graduates in the teaching and research fields of physical therapy. In an interview with the alumni publication Scarab, Payton was asked what he loved most about his profession. “I enjoy helping people live at the highest level of functioning of which they are capable,” he replied. “And physical therapy students are fun to teach because they are truly interested in what they are doing.” The Otto D. Payton Professorship of Physical Therapy was created at VCU in 2004 by an anonymous donation from a former student. Daniel L. Riddle, Ph.D., assistant chair and department coordinator in the School of Allied Health Professions’ Ph.D. distance-learning program, was the first appointed Otto D. Payton endowed professor in 2005 and still holds the position today. Mary Williams Dransfield, PT, DPT, Class of 2014 Mary Williams Dransfield died on June 10, 2015, from injuries sustained in a car accident. She wed the love of her life, Devon Wesley Dransfield, in August 2014 and had settled into a “storybook life” enjoying hard work, good friends and the company of local family. At the time of her death, Mary was practicing at The Barren Ridge Physical Therapy Group, first in Fishersville, Virginia, and subsequently in Stuarts Draft. Eric Richie, PT, Class of 1994 Eric Richie died unexpectedly in December 2015, leaving behind family, friends and colleagues who loved and respected him both for who he was as a person and for how he cared for his patients. At the time of his death, Eric was practicing at Medical Facilities of America’s Hanover Health and Rehabilitation Center in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Ann Stitzer, Class of 1948 Anne Stitzer died on Dec. 26, 2014, at the age of 87. Mrs. Stitzer served as Director of Physical Therapy at Richmond Memorial Hospital, then Sheltering Arms, and retired after 25 years of service. Once retired, she served on the Board of Directors at Sheltering Arms. Stephen M. Levine, PT, DPT Steve Levine died on March 3, 2015, from injuries sustained in a car accident while visiting Costa Rica. Steve was a graduate of the VCU Department of Health Administration, where he earned his MBA; the University of Maryland Department of Physical Therapy, where he earned his entry-level BS degree; and A.T. Still University of the Health Sciences, where he earned his DPT degree. At the time of his death, Steve was a founding partner of Fearon and Levine, a consulting company. Steve was also well known for his impressive service to the APTA, including terms on the Board of Directors in the roles of both Vice Speaker and then Speaker of the House of Delegates.

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3rd Annual White Coat Ceremony White coat ceremonies, a relatively new rite of passage for students in the health professions, mark a commitment to the ethical and professional standards of their chosen field of study as they don a white coat as a symbol of professionalism. The ceremony is traditionally held at the beginning of the students’ professional program, prior to their first clinical experiences. The VCU PT program held its inaugural white coat ceremony in 2013, cloaking all three classes of students during an event attended by families and friends. In the fall of 2014, the ceremony was enhanced with the recognition of student scholarship and award recipients and the announcement and recognition of the Carlton Jones Outstanding Clinical Instructor awards. Thomas Bohanan, PT, DPT, current president of the Virginia Physical Therapy Association and a graduate of the VCU transitional DPT program, provided the keynote address for both the 2013 and 2014 ceremonies. The White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2018 was held on Sept. 11, 2015, with Dianne V. Jewell, PT, DPT, Ph.D., delivering the keynote address. Jewell served on the faculty for the VCU DPT program from 2000 to 2013, and she continues to interact with our students as their primary supporter, cheerleader and mentor for the Marquette Challenge, the Foundation for Physical Therapy’s largest annual fundraising event. Jewell provided an inspirational message intended to help students connect the didactic learning that lies ahead to the people whose lives will be touched by their developing skills. Once again, scholarship and award recipients were recognized, and the event was followed by a reception. Based on feedback from students and families, the White Coat Ceremony has become a beloved annual tradition for the department. —Shawne Soper, PT, DPT, MBA

The Class of 2015 captured their excitement on graduation day with a group selfie.

Graduation 2015 On May 9, 2015, the VCU Department of Physical Therapy proudly graduated 54 bright and enthusiastic physical therapists, sending them out into the workforce armed with the knowledge and skills needed to shape the future of their profession. This year, the department hosted a luncheon in the students’ honor following the university’s graduation and just prior to the School of Allied Health Professions ceremony. Held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, the event served as a chance for faculty and administrators to meet the graduates’ families and say our farewells.

Alumni news

We love to hear from you! Please send your alumni news to The Class of 2018 poses after being cloaked at the 3rd Annual White Coat Ceremony. 24 | A Therapeutic Tradition

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an equal opportunity/affirmative action university


Check out everything from T-shirts and polos to vests and fleece jackets at the VCU Physical Therapy – School of Allied Health Professions’ Facebook page. If you’re interested in buying VCU PT apparel with our March 2016 order, please email Caroline Owen at

Have you seen the amazing VCU PT apparel yet?

1200 East Broad Street P.O. Box 980233 Richmond, Virginia 23298-0233

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Allied Health Professions

VCU Physical Therapy Newsletter Spring 2016  

A Therapeutic Tradition is the annual newsletter for the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Physical Therapy.

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