Virginia Commonwealth University
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  Then There Were Ten
Clinical Lab Sciences Gerontology
Virginia Center On Aging Health Administration
Nurse Anesthesia Occupational Therapy
Patient Counseling Physical Therapy
Radiation Sciences Rehabilitation Counseling

Clinical Lab Sciences

The 2004-05 academic year marked several "firsts" for the Clinical Laboratory Sciences Department. The first group of students started the on-line degree completion program offered in conjunction with the new medical campus of the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC). Students who have completed their Associate degree in Medical Laboratory Technology at NVCC can now continue their professional education without the need to relocate. All the lecture portions of the baccalaureate level courses are available on-line using the web-based course management tool, Blackboard, and the clinical practicum portions of the curriculum are offered at a local site. To that end, the department has established a new clinical affiliation with Quest Diagnostics-Nichols Institute in Chantilly, Virginia. Quest is a large reference laboratory offering a variety of high-complexity testing. It is an ideal setting for supplementing the typical clinical training experiences an MLT received in a community hospital.

In another "first" for the department, the first class in the Accelerated Master of Science program entered the graduate phase of the curriculum in the 2005 spring semester. The Accelerated MS track integrates undergraduate and graduate coursework and culminates in the awarding of both a BS and MS degree.

In addition, efforts designed to upgrade our facilities continue. The most recent improvement has been the replacement of all the computers in the students' computer laboratory. The students are certainly enjoying the new state-of-the-art technology!

The department faculty have been busy with all the new program options, as well as being actively involved in preparations for the national meeting of the Clinical Laboratory Educators Consortium hosted by the Virginia group of lab educators. The meeting was held in February in Williamsburg and was very successful, breaking the attendance records of all previous conferences.

For additional information, check out the departmental web-site at


This semester has been a very busy time for the Department of Gerontology. As part of the $1.2+ million Virginia Geriatric Education Center grant funded from HRSA, we completed a three weekly broadcast of a nationally televised videoconference on Substance Abuse in the Elderly Videoconference developed jointly with the VA's Employee Education System and a consortium of Geriatric Education Centers (Mountain State, Pennsylvania and Western Reserve are partners with the Virginia GEC). Over fifty sites across the US signed on, in addition of all VA system sites and all units of the Department of Defense in the North American and European corridors. There was a web-cast re-broadcast in May in California and other states. Tapes of the program will be available for a minimal cost in June. Special thanks to our coordinator, Ms. Kathleen Watson.

Over 250 physicians and nurse practitioners and dentists recently attended our annual VGS co-sponsored Geriatrics conference at the Jefferson. Kudos to Lucy Lewis.

New computer-based modules are now available and we hope you will have a look at the latest developments. We have modules on diabetes, oral cancer related to chewing tobacco, lung cancer and smoking and a series of modules on Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training (GITT).

The Progress for Ethical Decision Making supplemental grant has been moving along at a very fast pace, with the next phase of Optimal Aging (Difficult Decisions) which began April 25th and ran through May 16th for four consecutive Monday evenings. This is now sold-out with a waiting list. This program is part of the EDM Fellows and Scholars Program. An encore presentation will be held South of the River on June 6th and for three additional Mondays. For more information about the program call Lucy Lewis at 804.828.9060. Another important training event was held recently dealing with the timely issue of the Living Will preparation. Geriatric Care Management, a new graduate course, offered for CEU and graduate credit began May 24th at Senior Connections. Examples of presenters and teachers are: Debbie Repp; Jane Kallio; Gale Davis (Coordinator); Dr. Joe James; and Norah Knutsen.

With extensive funding from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, the dates for the June supervisor of direct care providers training have been set. Special thanks to our erstwhile curriculum developers, Drs. Rita Jablonski and Tony DeLellis from our own VCU School of Nursing, and to our external reviewers who had such excellent feedback: Ms. Christine Stacy and Ms. Bonnie Gordon.

The Delaware funded project, More Life Left to Live is coming to a close, and all are invited to see the superb video and the accompanying training materials developed under the leadership of Drs. Nancy Osgood and Connie Coogle. Special thanks to Bert Waters for project assistance. For more information on the training materials, call 804.828.1565.

The SEARCH newsletter was recently completed honoring and spotlighting Alumni for the Careers in Aging Week. This was developed through the LLHC initiative of the VGEC under the leadership of Dr. Ayn Welleford, with editing by Katie Young and Keturah Edwards. For the Philip Morris grant, also under the leadership of Dr. Welleford, the first training sessions for Family Caregivers: Personal Care Aides in collaboration with Senior Connections, Dr. Thelma Watson, Kathy Miller, Judy Nelson, and Gale Davis.

With special funding from the university, the VGEC will be assisting in the transformation of credit courses that are video-based to credit courses that are presented via Blackboard or webcasting. Doing the project coordination with Dr. Welleford and Ms. Katie Young is one of our top-notch alumni, Dr. Kimberly Brill. Kim received her M.S. in Gerontology and her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

All faculty made presentations at our annual meetings of GSA, AGHE, SGS and many attended the pre-White House Conference on Aging in preparation for the once a decade White House Conference on Aging in September. Dr. Welleford completed her presidency of Virginia Association on Aging and Dr. Jim Cotter is currently the president. Dr. Connie Coogle was elected to the presidency of the Southern Gerontological Society, while Jason Rachel serves on the Board.

Four of the Virginia Beach cohort students graduated in May and the remainder will graduate in December. The City of Virginia Beach held an aging policy forum on May 9th and additionally will be presented to JLARC about how to plan statewide for an aging Virginia population.

The Student of the Year for the Department is Linda Liskey with the A.D. Williams Awardees, Suzanne Thibault and Debbie Preston. Jackie Greenwalt was selected as the Iris A. Parham Scholar Awardee. The Department of Gerontology's Alumni of the Year is Ms. Gale Davis.

As of July 1st, Drs. Parham, Osgood and Harkins, who were recently named Professors Emeriti, will be retiring. Thanks for their long and dedicated service to VCU and to the Department. Congratulations to Dr. Ayn Welleford who has been named the Interim Chair effective July 1st. Additional congratulations to Dr. Welleford for her promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure. Congratulations, also, to Drs. Cotter and Welleford who will be taking over the VGEC.

For more information on any of our programs, check out our new and improved website at

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Virginia Center On Aging

The Virginia Center on Aging has committed itself to research, demonstration, and training initiatives that assist individuals with disabilities, lifelong or late-onset, to remain relatively independent in their communities for as long as is meaningfully possible. Our initiatives recognize the individual's desire for independence, the importance of family caregiving in long-term care and family caregivers' needs for acknowledgment and assistance, the requirements of planners and policy makers for accurate data and insightful recommendations, and the practical needs of service providers for innovative model programs that maximize existing resources.

Accordingly, our work emphasizes self-development, self-care, caregiving, and effective service collaboration. Recent projects of the Virginia Center on Aging include developing and delivering a model training program on home-and-community-based care to help rural and minority Virginians remain in their own homes through use of available community resources and self-advocacy; field-testing a strategy for inter-system cooperation between the disabilities system and the aging network to benefit older adults with developmental disabilities and their families; researching the prevalence of eldercare among employed caregivers, the impact of their eldercare upon work performance, and their desire for assistance; employing a train-the-trainer model curriculum for dementia caregiving among rural and minority Virginians that involved clergy and other respected community leaders; and following up the enduring benefit of model program initiatives designed to prevent or reduce geriatric alcoholism.

For more information and copies of the Age in Action newsletter by the Virginia Center on Aging (VCOA), check out the website at

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Health Administration

Jacqueline Zinn, Ph.D., was guest lecturer at the Paul A. Gross Distinguished Lecture series in November, 2004. Dr. Zinn, a nationally known expert on the organization and financing of long term care, presented her lecture entitled "Driven to Tiers: Disparities in the Quality of Nursing Home Care."

Dr. Zinn is a Professor of Health Care Management at Temple University, and joined the Fox School at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after a successful career as hospital administrator (Temple University Hospital and The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania). She teaches graduate and undergraduate students on healthcare, strategic management, and business policies.

For additional information, please feel free to check out the Departmental web-site at

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Nurse Anesthesia

Presently, the walls are coming down on the second floor of West Hospital to make room for the Department of Nurse Anesthesia. In August of this year, the Department will move from West Hospital 11th floor to newly renovated space on the second floor. Not only will this space be new, but it will also be much larger to accommodate our continued growth. In addition, our simulation laboratory will be enhanced to remain state-of-the-art. Currently we have 47graduate students enrolled in two classes and we have already accepted 25 local and 7 distance graduate students in the fall. To date we now have 6 doctoral students as well. Our outreach program in Southwest Virginia is strong and growing. This fall we will have 12 students seated with six clinical affiliates onboard in this rural region.

  Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center  
  Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Abingdon, V.A.  

This past year the American Academy Colleges of Nursing has set forth a visionary statement that proposes that all advanced nursing specialties, including nurse anesthesia, move their educational programs to the clinical doctoral leave by 2015. The Department of Nurse Anesthesia proposes to continue its leadership in the area of professional education by developing and submitting a proposal for a first professional doctoral degree: "Doctorate in Nurse Anesthesia Practice" (DNAP). The proposed DNAP practice-oriented doctoral program in nurse anesthesia would be a three-year long program most likely consisting of eight semesters including two summers. Nursing applicants will have completed their baccalaureate degree in science for admission to the program and must still have at least one year of critical care experience. This professional doctoral program in nurse anesthesia would consist of approximately 100 semester hours. It is proposed that a number of courses in the curriculum will need to be revised to reflect additional content and depth of skill development.

In addition to increased specialized clinical experience, other new courses will be developed for the practice-oriented doctoral curriculum. A web based transitional program to the DNAP will be developed for practicing nurse anesthetists who wish to return to VCU to upgrade their credentials. While this initiative has already begun, we have not yet set an official start date, as numerous approval processes are first required.

Please view the Nurse Anesthesia web-site at We welcome our alumni participation in the School.

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Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy saw changes on many fronts in 2004-2005. We have experienced retirements, program changes, and the development of a new program. In the retirement realm, Dr. Janet Watts retired in August, and we worked through this past academic year with the skilled efforts of existing faculty and our very knowledgeable adjunct faculty. We are engaged in a search at this point for a new faculty member, but greatly appreciate the effort and willingness to pitch in demonstrated by all faculty during this past year. Our second retirement was that of Ms. Joyce Woods. Ms. Woods had given many years of service to the University and Department, and has been greatly missed. Joshua Dickerson took on the role of Office Manager, moving here from Syracuse, NY. Josh has had a steep learning curve coming from the outside, but is growing into the role.

We are saying farewell to another of our esteemed faculty this year. Dr. Dianne Koontz Lowman has decided to make a move to be closer to her loved ones. She has taken a fabulous job with T-TAC at JMU that will certainly capitalize on her knowledge base in early childhood special education and her incredible organizational skills. Their gain is certainly our loss! We wish her the very best in her new role.

Our Entry-level program continues to grow, and we work constantly to shape it to meet the demands of clinical entry. We hear from our graduates frequently that they feel well prepared for their clinical roles, so our ongoing program evaluation efforts are met with clinical success. The Post-professional masters program remains 'small but mighty'. This program is scheduled for phase out however, as we have just developed and submitted plans for a professional doctorate of occupational therapy. The OTD will be a post-professional degree program, and will be taught online. Faculty worked diligently throughout the summer, fall, and early spring to develop the curriculum and individual courses. The OTD proposal was submitted to SAHPs graduate program committee this past spring, and will be making its way through the university program committees in the fall of 2005. If approved, it will 'go live' in the 2006-2007 academic year. Thanks to all faculty for the effort and energy put into this process!

We have been fortunate enough to have benefited from some face-lifting this past year, replacing blinds and getting some much needed painting done. We are making plans to do some shape shifting, to make room for a new neurophysiological research laboratory.

The Virginia Occupational Therapy Association held its annual meeting in Richmond in the Fall, 2004. Our Department hosted an alumni reception during the conference that was exceptionally well attended. The reception included great food (VCU catering to be thanked for this), some mixer games, door prizes and a silent auction. Such dignitaries as our very own Dean came, and a wonderful time was had by all. It was a great success.

We have graduated two students from our Post-professional masters program this past year. Kelly Leigers successfully completed and defended her thesis entitled Students' Perceptions of an Innovative Occupational Therapy Program for Adolescents At-risk in a Non-traditional Educational Setting in November, 2004. Allison Mistrett was successful in her defense in April, 2005. Her thesis was A Study of the Relationship Between Sensory Modulation Dysfunction and Participation in Daily Activities. We wish them both well as they move forward with their new degrees.

Please visit the departmental web-site for additional information:

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Patient Counseling

Our fall season was highlighted by events for which we share much gratitude. On October 26, 2004, our celebration of Pastoral Care Week began with a reception recognizing 10 years of our Partners in Healing program by inviting back over 100 former recipients. This year we recognized two Distinguished Partners: Deborah Carlton Loftis, who has been so generous in the development of an endowed bereavement fund, and Benjamin P. Campbell, who has tirelessly worked to support peace and justice issues in the City of Richmond.

The department participated in this year's Phon-A-Thon coordinated through the Dean's Office. This was our most successful Phon-A-Thon having received over $1000 in new gifts and pledges. In addition, the John and Jessica Loftis Bereavement Fund was included in this year's CVC Campaign resulting in new contributions of over $6,900. Special thanks go to Ann Charles-Craft for coordinating the efforts for the department.

Ann Charles-Craft was instrumental in writing grant proposals toward activities in Pediatrics. Through Ann's efforts, $5000 was awarded by the Wilbert Foundation to support bereavement activities for children and families. The Ronald McDonald Charities awarded $23,000 for the creation of a pediatric palliative care room and the MCVH Auxiliary awarded a Pediatric Interdisciplinary Team Grant of $30,000 for the creation of new family waiting space. In addition, the department has received a $20,000 contract from LifeNet toward research activities related to organ donation.

Our Pastoral Care Department received foundation funding to support two new half-time chaplain positions, one in Palliative Care and one in the Heart Center.

In April of 2005, the Pastoral Care Department received an award and plaque from Ronald McDonald Charities for its support of the local Ronald McDonald House. Alma Hassell attended the presentation and received the award on behalf of the department.

We invite you to visit our web-site for additional information:

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Physical Therapy

Our new transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program was officially approved by VCU's Board of Visitors on November 11, 2004, and we are excited to report that the first class of 30 students matriculated in January 2005. This distance-based program is designed for full-time physical therapy clinicians to complete through part-time study in one to three years in a distance learning format. The 15-21 credit curriculum consists of four required courses and either two or four elective courses, depending on a student's entry-level degree. We plan to matriculate a new cohort of up to 30 students each fall and spring through the end of 2007. As of this writing, we have offered admission to over 80 Virginia physical therapists, 28 of which are VCU Physical Therapy graduates. We are currently accepting applications for the class scheduled to matriculate January 2006.

Plans to expand the physical space in the Department are under way. In the summer of 2005 the MCV Day Care center will vacate the south and west wings of the West Hospital basement. These areas will be renovated for our use as teaching, research, and student resource space. Students will benefit from a new lounge for eating as well as areas dedicated for study. The construction will also involve increasing the space of one of our lecture rooms, a new large teaching lab, and a renovated and enlarged Learning Resource Center. Several of the faculty will also receive dedicated research lab space.

Dan Riddle, PT, PhD, will be honored with the "Hislop Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Professional Literature" at the American Physical Therapy Association annual conference in June 2005. Rochelle Pringle, a 3rd year DPT student, was chosen to receive the 2005 Minority Award for Academic Excellence which will also be presented at the PT annual conference in Boston in June 2005. Natasha Shy Wall, a 2nd year DPT student, was presented with three awards at the University student award ceremony: the University Service Award, University Leadership Award, and the SAHP Distinguished Service Award.

We had a class of 41 DPT students who graduated in May 2005. This class represents the first class to graduate originally accepted into the new DPT curriculum in 2002. We have accepted a full class of 54 students starting this summer that will graduate in 2008.

For additional information, click on our web-site:

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Radiation Sciences

The revised curriculum for Radiography was implemented Fall 2004, which provides students opportunities for advanced level practice. We are pleased to report that we have four students in the advanced level track for radiologist assistant (RA), an advanced-level radiologic technologist who enhances patient care by extending the capacity of the radiologist in the diagnostic imaging environment. These students will begin the MCVH Fellowship in Radiology Summer 2005. VCU is one of only three institutions in the U.S. currently offering the RA as an advanced level track.

Two of our programs underwent site visits for re-accreditation this past year. Both programs received positive reviews and we look forward to notification regarding the length of accreditation.

As enrollment continues to increase we need additional clinical sites for student placement in clinical rotations. We added CJW Medical Center as clinical sites for nuclear medicine and radiation therapy and Henrico Doctors for radiography and nuclear medicine this past year.

Ms. Beth Meixner, Assistant Chair, was appointed this year by Governor Mark Warner to serve on the Board of Medicine's Advisory Board for Radiologic Technology. In addition, Dr. Jeff Legg was the lead author on a publication which received the "Article of the Year" award from our national professional organization. Dr. Legg has received this same award in the past.

We welcomed our newest faculty member, Mr. Ferell Justice, a previous graduate of our programs. Mr. Justice brings extensive knowledge and clinical experience to our Radiography Program.

Please visit our web-site for further information on the program:

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Rehabilitation Counseling

Members of the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling are preparing for the 50th anniversary of our program. Please join us for celebrations throughout the first week of October 2005, ending with a big reunion of all interested alumni and retired faculty members on Saturday, October 8th! If you are interested in participating in planning of any anniversary events, please contact Steve West at If you have ideas about fund-raising to support this celebration and other important Department initiatives, please contact Susan Edquest at

Starting in August of 2005, the Department will again offer a distance-learning degree program, in addition to the traditional on-campus courses. Building on the success of the previous program provided through contracts with state vocational rehabilitation agencies for their employees in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina, faculty have designed a new online program available to any qualified student. For more information about this program, please contact Chris Reid at

Brian McMahon is currently on sabbatical leave, conducting and coordinating research using a dataset from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He is serving as a guest editor for a special issue on Workplace Discrimination and Disability in America for WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation.

Congratulations to Steve West, who was recently honored as the "Young Investigator of the Year" by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Congratulations also to Amy Armstrong, who was elected to the Board of Directors for the National Council on Rehabilitation Education. Chris Reid was appointed to the national Board of Directors of the National Rehabilitation Association, representing the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association. Members of the faculty are also heavily represented in important University committees and organizations in the Richmond area. For example, Allen Lewis was recently appointed to the advisory board for VCU's Center on Health Disparities.

The Department now sponsors multiple listservs. One is designed specifically for people connected to our Department, including current students, interested alumni, faculty members, and friends of the Department. One of the most popular features of this listserv is the regular posting of local job openings. Other listservs are managed for the benefit of the profession, including a listserv for Rehabilitation Counselors around the country, as well as a listserv for trainers specializing in Motivational Interviewing. If you are interested in joining the listserv focused on the Department, or the more general listserv for Rehabilitation Counselors, please contact Mary Tucker at If you are a trainer specializing in Motivational Interviewing, please contact Chris Wagner at

For further information on Rehab Counseling, please click here:

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