TSU to become first HBCU to open student-run physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will soon become the first historically black institution to have a student-run physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic.

The clinic, which is part of the College of Health Sciences, opens Aug. 30 and will be located in the basement of Clement Hall on the main campus. It will mainly handle cases like knee injuries, shoulder pain, and lower back pain. The more serious cases will be referred out to local clinics.

Doctoral student Janae Swift next to rendering of new Health Sciences Building. (TSU Media Relations)

With the original goal of servicing the community, TSU students, faculty and staff will be the initial patients. The clinic will serve as a referral source for physical and occupational therapy clinics in the area.

Dr. Rick Clark, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy at TSU, will oversee the program, which joins 37 other student-run physical therapy clinics nationwide. Clark said the fact that the clinic is student-run is what he likes most about it.

“It’s a teaching opportunity for them,” said Clark, who was in the military for 25 years and ran multiple clinics. “I want them to not only be great therapists, but if they want to go out and start their own clinic, they now have a better understanding of what is involved in doing that.”

Clark added that the clinic’s “primary emphasis is on outpatient orthopedic and sports injuries with the ability to treat neurological conditions on a case-by-case basis.”

Janae Swift of Memphis is in her second year of TSU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. She is a POTUS (Preparing our Tomorrows Uniquely in STEM) and heads the12-member board of students who will operate the clinic. Swift said she plans to operate her own facility one day.

“This is an amazing experience,” she said. “I love the opportunity to serve, to give back, especially to the faculty and students, and the TSU community as a whole.”

Dr. Ronald Barredo, Dean of the College of Health Sciences, said he’s looking forward to the impact of the new clinic.

Dr. Rick Clark works with physical therapy equipment. (TSU Media Relations)

“I think it will help tremendously with regard to the local community, our campus community,” Barredo said. “The clinic would not have been possible without the support of TSU’s POTUS Fellows program, which aims to provide POTUS Fellows with opportunities that will empower them to excel in their academic programs. The plans are, once this gets into full gear, we want to extend this outward to the community; to provide care for the underserved, uninsured and underinsured.”

Clark gave a special thanks to Dr. Andrea Tyler, Director of Graduate STEM Research.

“Without her support through grant funding, the program would not be possible,” he said.

TSU is currently constructing a new state-of-the-art Health Sciences Building that’s expected to be complete next year, and the physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic will be part of it.  

“This project will not only bring together a number of excellent programs under one roof – Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Cardiorespiratory Care, and Health Information Management – but will also be a hub for collaborative practice, community service, and clinical research,” Barredo said.

The new clinic will join the Department of Dental Hygiene and the Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology as a community outreach health care clinic. The dental clinic currently provides service to nearly 600 patients a year, including faculty and students, as well as the Nashville community.

For more information about TSU’s College of Health Sciences, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/.

Department of Media Relations

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About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.