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First HBCU-based physical therapy residency program receives accreditation

Winston-Salem State University, in partnership with Novant Health, is the first HBCU to offer a physical therapy residency program. 

The Winston-Salem State University-Novant Health Physical Therapy Neurologic Clinical Residency Program recently received full accreditation from the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education. WSSU is the first historically Black college and university (HBCU) in the nation to offer a fully accredited PT residency program.  

“This is such a great accomplishment for our program and the university,” said Sara Migliarese, associate professor of physical therapy at WSSU and director of the neuro-residency program. “Accreditations are the type of achievements that elevate programs and helps with national status. Working alongside a strong community partner like Novant Health has played a pivotal role in the program’s success and has helped to set us apart from other residencies.” 

“We are excited to see this partnership with WSSU reach such an important and historic accreditation milestone,” said Elizabeth Penn, director of rehab medicine at Novant Health. “For years to come, this program will continue to equip residents with the specialized training they need to provide high quality and equitable care for our patients.”

Launched in 2018, WSSU and Novant Health partnered to create a 12-month residency program that combines the academic resources of WSSU while providing hands-on clinical training with Novant Health. It gives licensed physical therapists an opportunity to elevate their clinical practice and advance their careers.  

Recent Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduates are required to have three years of experience working with a defined population before they can take the Neurologic Certified Specialist (NCS) exam. However, with a residency, new clinicians can take the exam after just one year – moving the process up by two years. 

“During my DPT program, I developed a passion for working with the neurologic population and knew that's who I wanted to work with during my career, said Kelly Rowland, a recent program graduate who now works at Novant Health Neurological and Spine Rehabilitation - Kimel Park. “I was drawn to this residency program because it not only helped to fast track my focus area, but it also allowed me to focus my clinical skills on helping to serve the underserved community in and around Winston-Salem.”

The residency program has a strong diversity, equity and inclusion focus, especially in health care disparities. Each residency participant performs a research component about health equity, diversity and inclusion.  

"Our commitment to the elimination of health disparities supports the overall mission of the university,” said Migliarese. “We hope that the research that is done will change how certain determinants of health negatively impact communities and produce competent, compassionate and ethical clinicians who will take that excellence they’ve learned and go off and change society.” 

Applications for the 2021-22 WSSU-Novant Physical Therapy Neurologic Clinical Residency Program will be accepted until April 15, 2021. Visit the Neurologic Clinical Residency Program website to learn more.  

About Winston-Salem State University 
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. 

About Novant Health
Novant Health is an integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to communities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. The Novant Health network consists of more than 2,300 physicians and over 36,000 employees that provide care at more than 700 locations, including 16 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. In 2020, Novant Health was the only healthcare system in North Carolina to be included on Forbes’ Best Employers for Diversity list. Diversity MBA Magazine has also ranked Novant Health third on its 2019 list of “Best Places for Women & Diverse Managers to Work.” Novant Health provided more than $993.2 million in community benefit, including financial assistance and services, in 2019.

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