Community Connections

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:

  • Children's Miracle Network - Raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Carver Community Project - Partnership aimed to create a shared urban community with a commitment to improving the neighborhood’s quality of life, while providing learning opportunities for students. 
  • Foot Screening Clinic - A health screening clinic for homeless  and under insured individuals. It is held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church and staffed by faculty members from medicine and physical therapy in addition to graduate students from medicine, physical therapy, pharmacy and dentistry.  
  • Foundation for Physical Therapy -VCU-Marquette Challenge - The largest annual student-driven fundraising effort for the Foundation for Physical Therapy to raise money to fund scholarships and grants that advance patient care.
  • Habitat for Humanity - Committed to making affordable and safe housing a reality for low-income families.
  • Health fairs
  • HOMBRE - Team members work in healthcare clinics or on public health projects geared to improve villagers’ quality of life.
  • CARES clinic - Pro-bono student run physical therapy services
  • Reach cycles - Providing children and veterans with disabilities mobility and independence with adapted cycles.
  • Children’s Assistive Technology Services of Virginia CATS serves as a no-cost resource to children with disabilities who need adaptive equipment and whose families have limited resources.  
  • Fried Center for the Advancement of Potential – To help those persons with intellectual, and the often times associated structural disabilities, reach their maximum potential (soon expanding to Richmond).
  • Sportables – Provide national leadership and opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in community sports, recreation and educational programs.
  • CHoR - Go Baby Go - Community-based research, design and outreach program that provides modified ride-on cars to children birth to age 3 who experience limited mobility.
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association camp - MDA Summer Camp provides thousands of kids with muscular dystrophy and related muscle-debilitating diseases "the best week of the year." 
  • Camp Bruce McCoy - Sponsored by the Brain Injury Assoc of VA and designed to provide the best recreational opportunity possible for the campers and camp activities are modified to meet the needs of nearly all levels of mobility and cognition.
  • PALETTE - An intergenerational arts program that pairs VCU students with senior adults to overcome agism through art.
  • Miracles in Motion - A dance troupe designed specifically for children and adults with special needs.
  • Career Exploration Program
  • Wellness Block Party - Wellness is more than just health. It is community. It is fun. It is feeling good!
  • Cosby and Richmond City High Schools - VCU faculty and DPT students interact with high students showcasing physical therapy as a health career choice through lecture and hands on experiences.

Faculty service

In addition to guiding students through service learning experiences, faculty members also support the community through a variety of activities.  Over half of the faculty participate in clinical 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.