Virginia Commonwealth University

Community connections

Community Public service is an important element of VCU's Department of Physical Therapy mission. The department encourages and supports service by students and faculty as a means to help meet the needs of society, to provide students with alternative learning experiences, and to provide the faculty with information and guidance regarding the rapid changes in the health care environment.

Service Learning

Service learning is a structured educational experience that combines community service with student preparation and reflection. The overall objective of a service-learning experience is to provide students with an opportunity to internalize their role as a provider of physical therapy to underserved, disadvantaged, and/or multicultural individuals or groups. Students also explore the value of being a service-oriented citizen through activism and advocacy in non-physical therapy related activities.

Service-learning opportunities provided with the guidance of the faculty:

Faculty service

In addition to guiding students through service learning experiences, faculty members also support the community through a variety of activities. Eight faculty members practice approximately eight hours per week in inpatient or outpatient settings in the Richmond metropolitan area, including the VCU Medical Center. Faculty members also provide consultation to area health care facilities and public agencies and have served on professional regulatory boards.

Advisory committee

The Department of Physical Therapy also solicits input from the professional community at large to ensure that the program and the expectations of student performance are in line with a rapidly changing health care environment. The department's advisory committee is the formal group that responds on a regular basis to issues of interest identified by the faculty.

The committee is comprised of eight members who are representative of diverse geographic regions, ethnic groups and physical therapy settings in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as non-physical therapy stakeholders.

The purposes of the committee are to advise the department regarding current practice needs, policy and legislative issues affecting physical therapy education, congruence of the mission and vision of the department with the health care needs of the community, and the formation of external relationships to support both the department and the community.