MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The members of the West Virginia University School of Medicine Division of Physical Therapy Class of 2015 received their white coats during the traditional Clinical Pathways Ceremony on Saturday, April 12 at the WVU Health Sciences Center.
The Pathways Ceremony represents a rite of passage for the students to celebrate and signify that they have successfully completed two years of academic work and are now ready for the privilege to begin patient care. Students publicly sign the American Physical Therapy Association Code of Ethics during the ceremony and are presented with their white clinical coats.
The Pathways Ceremony Sponsorship Program was initiated four years ago to help connect alumni with students. Sponsorship cards are placed in the coat pocket of each physical therapy student with an inspirational or supportive message, along with the name of the sponsor.
“The PT students are reminded that it is always important to stay connected with the program that builds them,” Corrie Mancinelli, P.T., Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Physical Therapy, said. “They feel a connection with alumni who demonstrate this mindset in support of their development. Oftentimes, this results in gainful employment at facilities owned by or employing our graduates. It is another way for our students to garner outstanding mentorship, and we are grateful for our alumni who continue to support the students and the program.”
Several awards were presented during the Pathways Ceremony. Burton Reed, P.T., received the Mary Lou Barnes Distinguished Professional Service Award, which recognizes a WVU Physical Therapy graduate who has made a significant contribution to the physical therapy profession through excellence in teaching, research, or service. Mary Lou Barnes was the founder and first chair of the WVU Physical Therapy program.
Reed is a 1995 graduate of the WVU Physical Therapy program and is the founder and owner of Mountain River Physical Therapy, which currently operates 15 clinics in five states with the majority of those clinics located in West Virginia.
Christopher Unger received with the Clinical Pathways Scholar Award as the student with the highest grade point average. Trent Walker was recognized as the graduate assistant for the 2014-2015 year.
The WVU Physical Therapy Program was established in 1970 as a division of the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine. For 27 years, the division offered a Bachelor of Science degree. In the late 1990’s, the program joined with the divisions of Exercise Physiology and Occupational Therapy to form the Department of Human Performance and Exercise Science. During this period, the program transitioned to a Master of Physical Therapy degree.
In 2005, the Division once again responded to national changes in the physical therapy profession by transitioning to the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT). The first DPT class graduated in 2008. The Division has maintained continued Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education status over its 42 years of existence. To date, the Division has graduated more than 1,000 physical therapists.