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Physical Therapy Program to hold Capstone Research Presentations and White Coat Ceremony 

WHEELING, W.Va., June 24 — Wheeling University’s Physical Therapy students will present their doctoral capstone research projects and receive their white coats during two events on Friday, June 28. 

From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program will offer the results of their completed original research in the Acker Science Center Auditorium. Following the presentations, a White Coat Ceremony will be held in the Chapel of Mary and Joseph. The White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage that emphasizes the importance of compassionate patient care for students as they prepare for their final clinical education rotation.

The research presentations are a culmination of two years of study and research on a specific area of interest. The DPT students are given the opportunity to work with a faculty member on research projects that overlap the student’s and faculty’s interests. With eight faculty members, each having their own area of specialization, students have a wide range of opportunities from which to choose a research topic, such as pediatrics, neuroscience, geriatrics, cardiovascular health, rehabilitation, orthopedics, sports, interprofessional education, pharmacology, motivation, mental health, professional engagement, and service learning.

“Participation in research is a key component of the Wheeling University DPT program, because our profession seeks evidence that therapeutic interventions have been proven and appropriate for patients,” said Dr. Alison Kreger, director of the DPT Program and clinical associate professor of Physical Therapy. “With increased emphasis on evidence-based practice, one of our priorities is to provide students the chance to work closely with a faculty mentor on research projects. The research the students produce can influence treatment plans and protocols for the patients they treat. Presentation of their scholarly work before their peers and the public is another key part of the process. In addition to their on-campus presentations, our physical therapy students are given the opportunity to present their doctoral research projects at state, national and international levels, as well as publish their results in professional journals.”

Sixteen students will present 10 different projects to those attending the Capstone Research Presentations. 

“The projects may take the form of experiments, reviews of current literature, case studies of patients, descriptive analyses or the evaluation of various treatment options,” said Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, professor of Physical Therapy. “At Wheeling University, we are educating students to be life-long learners, so they need the ability to be intelligent evaluators of research data. A physical therapist who knows how to determine high quality research studies will be a better therapist for their patients. We begin this process with the students the first week they arrive on campus.”

At the completion of the research presentations, DPT students will participate in a White Coat Ceremony, where they will recite the Physical Therapist’s Oath and receive their iconic white coat that signifies their status as healthcare professionals. “The White Coat Ceremony is relevant in emphasizing the importance of the human connection in healthcare,” Kreger added. 

Dr. Edward Phillips Polack, a graduate of the WVU School of Medicine, will give the keynote speech during the ceremony. A resident of Wheeling, he is a Clinical Professor of Surgery at West Virginia School of Medicine and works as a physician at WVU Wheeling Hospital. He also serves as chairperson of the Committee on Ethics at the hospital and is a diplomat of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, American Board of Surgery and the National Board of Medical Examiners. Throughout his 50-plus year career, he has served on numerous committees, and has authored or co-authored more than 200 research publications, presentations and books.