Rural-based Physical Therapy Moves

Contact: David Gross or Mary Margaret Colliver

 

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Like the program’s instructional classrooms, its state-of-the-art anatomy laboratory is larger than the space in which it previously was housed. The new laboratory also is stocked with entirely new equipment. Hazle said another feature contributing to a more pleasant laboratory experience for students is a laminar air flow, in which fresh air is pumped in through vents near the ceiling and then filtered out through vents near the floor.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 21, 2004) -- From relocating to an ultra-modern facility to receiving a prestigious national ranking, the spring 2004 semester was a busy one for the physical therapy program at the University of Kentucky Center for Rural Health in Hazard.

In March, the physical therapy program joined the Center for Rural Health’s other health education, research and community outreach programs in moving from rented space to a home of its own – the four-story, 57,000-square-foot Bailey-Stumbo Building, located at 750 Morton Boulevard, on the campus of the Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center.

Chuck Hazle, PT, M.S., O.C.S., an assistant professor in the Division of Physical Therapy at the Center for Rural Health, said the amenities offered by the new facility – including additional, more flexible instructional and laboratory space; better computer access for students; and opportunities for improved interactive video communication with UK’s main campus in Lexington – already have created an enhanced learning environment for students.

Like the program’s instructional classrooms, its state-of-the-art anatomy laboratory is larger than the space in which it previously was housed. The new laboratory also is stocked with entirely new equipment. Hazle said another feature contributing to a more pleasant laboratory experience for students is a laminar air flow, in which fresh air is pumped in through vents near the ceiling and then filtered out through vents near the floor.

Shortly after the relocation, U.S. News & World Report released its annual rankings of the nation’s graduation programs, in which UK’s physical therapy program – including its Hazard branch – was ranked 35th, or in the top 18 percent of programs of its kind in the nation.

“We know that the talented faculty and students based in Hazard play a big role in this national ranking,” said Judy Jones, J.D., director of the UK Center for Rural Health. “More importantly, these distinguished individuals will play an important role in the vitality of the rural communities they will one day serve.”

The physical therapy program at the Center for Rural Health consists of a 30-month, eight-semester professional phase – approximately 100 semester hours – during which students gain knowledge through classroom and laboratory coursework and acquire clinical expertise through a series of rotations in both rural and urban settings in Kentucky and across the country. The program leads to the granting of dual degrees: a Bachelor of Health Sciences and a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the UK College of Health Sciences. Plans call for the program to include a doctorate degree level within the next few years, Hazle said.

Tuition is the same as for other UK students, but in keeping with its rural mission the Hazard program is restricted to applicants from rural areas of Kentucky and is limited to 16 students per year. Of the 123 students who have graduated from the program, upwards of 90 percent now practice in rural areas.

But, Hazle cautions, the program’s rural location and emphasis do not mean the students or level of instruction are inferior to those in Lexington.

“In terms of anatomy and in all the other classes that have a laboratory experience of hands-on learning and practice, the students in Hazard actually have an advantage,” Hazle said. “Because of the smaller class size, our students have more one-on-one contact with their instructors for an extended period of time.”


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