Featured news

Every day College of Health Professions students, alumni, faculty and staff do extraordinary things. Read more about our latest achievements below.

VCU, Claude Moore Foundation partner to support health career progression of Southwest Virginia community college students

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions

Jan. 17, 2023

Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Health Professions (CHP) has partnered with the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation (CMCF) to establish the VCU Bridge Pathway Program. The program is designed to recruit and support Southwest Virginia community college students into CHP undergraduate health care degree programs.

As part of the initiative, CMCF has provided funding to support implementation of VCU Bridge, a pathway program which includes hiring a program coordinator, scholarships, and associated program costs.  

According to Alena Hampton, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs and student success in the VCU College of Health Professions, the resources will help the College achieve its enrollment goals by supporting 20 VCU Bridge participants annually.  

“Southwest Virginia is a critical area in which to focus these efforts, due to the severe health care workforce shortage in the region,” said Hampton. “We are grateful to the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation for entrusting us with their support, and for making this initiative possible.”

Participants of the VCU Bridge programs will be provided peer mentorship and will participate in co-curricular program that will assist them in acclimating to a four-year institution and prepare them for their health professions career. Targeted community colleges include Virginia Western, Southwest Virginia, Mountain Empire, Wytheville, Virginia Highlands, New River, Patrick Henry, and Danville. 

The College is in the process of searching for a VCU Bridge coordinator, who will oversee the program and lead recruitment strategies. These include promoting the program, communicating with VCU Bridge applicants, and developing the schedule of co-curricular and community building programming and events. 

“Having a dedicated coordinator will provide the College with more opportunities to connect with students, faculty, advisors and partners throughout the Southwest Virginia community,” Hampton said. “I am confident that the relationships we establish through VCU Bridge will positively impact our students as they prepare to serve in health care roles.”

The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation (CMCF) is a private Virginia philanthropy established in 1987 by Dr. Claude Moore. Moore grew up in poverty, and through hard work and frugality became a successful physician and landowner. The foundation’s giving includes funding its “flagship program”, the Claude Moore Scholars Program, as well as invitational grants to non-profit organizations primarily serving, but not limited to Loudoun County. These grants tend to focus on education, health, and human services. In the past 35 years, CMCF has provided over $90 million in grants to more than 500 non-profits. For more information, visit the Claude Moore Foundation's website..

VCU MSHA student wins scholarship for selfless service to others

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions

Jan. 17, 2023

Stephen Mosher
Stephen Mosher, VCU MSHA student, is the recipient of the Tim Campbell Scholarship for Selfless Service to Others and the Community by the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

Stephen Mosher, a Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA) Student in Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Health Professions Department of Health Administration, has earned the Tim Campbell Scholarship for Selfless Service to Others and the Community by the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

Students in CAHME accredited or certified programs are eligible to receive the scholarship, named in memory of Campbell, a CAHME board member who personified a commitment to service and volunteerism. Campbell believed in hard work and selfless service in his professional and personal life, and that true success is measured through relationships which help others reach their full potential.

A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Mosher attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. He subsequently began to work for the Veterans Health Administration in Jackson, Miss. before coming to Richmond in 2015. In 2020, he was promoted to his current role of chief engineer at the Central Virginia VA Healthcare System. In this role, he oversees the hospital's day to day building maintenance operations and construction projects, among other things.

According to Mosher, when he first joined the Central Virginia VA Healthcare System, he immediately focused his efforts on promoting a positive culture. He enacted monthly, individual discussions with each employee he supervised to provide opportunities for direct feedback. As a result, the Biomedical Engineering department employee satisfaction scores were rated in the top 15 departments hospital-wide for the "Best Places to Work.”

“By offering expanded opportunities for communication, he was able to proactively address concerns that, if left unaddressed, could have detrimental impacts on employee morale,” said M. Paige Powell, Ph.D., associate professor of Health Administration and the MHA & MSHA program director. “Learning how to carry out a culture change was a motivator for him to enter the MSHA program, which pushed him to grow as a leader and provide guidance on developing his leadership abilities.”

Mosher says that being on the maintenance side in a government role is a different aspect of health care, and he wanted to further develop his leadership skills and knowledge of the healthcare industry in general.

“As a non-clinician, I can't directly impact patient care, but I can work to create an environment where our administrators and clinicians work together to provide the highest quality of clinical care,” he said. “In my current role, we have a lot of fires, we have a lot of problems that come up, and things that need to be solved. It’s empowering my staff to creatively solve those problems and work collaboratively with the clinicians to ensure they have everything they need to provide the best care for patients.”

Mosher lives in Richmond with his wife, Grace. Together they enjoy hiking in the Shenandoah Valley, visiting wineries, and traveling all over the world. In recent years they have visited Italy, Spain and South Africa. After graduation this May, they plan to travel to France and Denmark. 

“I am very humbled to be selected for this scholarship. I didn't get a chance to meet Tim Campbell, but it sounds like he was such a good person, who cared a lot about people,” said Mosher. “To be honored in his memory is humbling and very exciting. I’m kind of at a loss for words.”

For more information on the CAMHE awards programs, visit here.

Marking 10 magical years, Sensitive Santa is a memorable gift for children with disabilities and their families

VCU Occupational Therapy students and faculty lend their time and expertise to increase accessibility for all during the holiday season.

As part of the Legendary Santa experience at CMoR, several events are offered with a sensory-friendly atmosphere called Sensitive Santa nights. The music and lights are toned down, and there’s a cool-down room available for little ones who may get overstimulated by the holiday hoopla. It’s all done to ensure children with disabilities can still experience the magic of Santa Claus. 

“There's a couple of families we just see again and again,” said Carole Ivey, Ph.D., chair of the Occupational Therapy Department at the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Health Professions, who has been heavily involved with Sensitive Santa nights since their inception. “This is their holiday tradition, and this is a meaningful part of their life that they can't just go to the regular Legendary Santa. They can't go to a typical mall Santa who doesn't know how to interact with them or understand their behaviors, or understand how to talk with them. And [CMoR’s] Legendary Santa is the real Santa, and he knows how to do that.” 

Read more about the Sensitive Santa event on the VCU Exposure site!

VCU Health Administration Student Receives “We Believe in You Award” from NAHSE

Scholarship is awarded to exceptional graduate students striving to become a future health care leader

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions

Maya Perkins, a Virginia Commonwealth University Health Administration student, recently was named a winner of the “We Believe in You Award” from the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE).

Maya Perkins (center), a VCU Health Administration student, recently was named a winner of the “We Believe in You Award” from the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE).
Maya Perkins (center), a VCU Health Administration student, recently was named a winner of the “We Believe in You Award” from the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE).
Photo courtesy of Maya Perkins

The award is given to an exceptional graduate student striving to become a future leader in health care management and NAHSE.  It also is one of four distinct scholarships developed by NAHSE to support and encourage minority students to pursue a career in healthcare leadership, or related field.

A native of Chesapeake, Perkins is a first-year student in the Masters in Health Administration program.

“As an African American woman striving to become a health care leader, I am committed to the journey of working to break health disparities,” she said.

Perkins says she was always interested in health care, and she started out as a nursing major at Hampton University. She knew that working to break barriers and health disparities in the community as a whole were important to her, and she was determined to make a difference for patients in a different way, especially among the minority population. As a result, Perkins changed her major to health sciences policy and administration.

“Maya exemplifies the passion, energy, and dedication the organization is looking for in aspiring healthcare leaders”, said Stephan Davis, DNP, FACHE, executive director of inclusive leadership education, assistant professor in the Department of Health Administration, and a member of NAHSE. “Only a few months into her studies at VCU, Maya is already demonstrating leadership in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. The faculty congratulate Maya and we look forward to celebrating future successes during her studies at VCU and in her career.”

Additionally, Perkins was elected DEI director for her cohort this fall. In this role, she will focus her efforts on being an advocate for her fellow classmates, encouraging and empowering students, and ensuring there are safe spaces with no barriers hindering success in the program.

“My cohort overall is very supportive of each other, and we're always encouraging one another,” said Perkins. “This is a great place to be. It's great energy and you feel like you want to succeed. You want everyone around you to succeed, and they give you those resources to do so, and are really preparing you to become the best health professional.”

Medical laboratory science shapes future for VCU alumna

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions

Modesola Akala was 13 years old when she immigrated to the United States. Her father moved their family from Nigeria, to make a new home in Richmond. But for Akala, transitioning to life in a new country as an adolescent came with its share of challenges, as she struggled to fit in comfortably with her peers.

Modesola Akala
Modesola Akala, a two-time alumna of the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, found her calling in laboratory sciences.

“As an immigrant with a strong accent and dark skin, I was heavily bullied in high school,” said Akala.

But throughout all of the change and growth she experienced, science remained a constant. It was something Akala always enjoyed, and she knew from a young age that science would always be part of her life. Upon graduating from high school, Akala became a biology major at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Maintaining her focus on science, Akala was still uncertain of how her studies would shape her future. About halfway through her undergraduate program, she sought guidance from her academic advisor.

“I asked about my options, because I honestly did not want to go to medical school,” she said. “I loved science, the research, and the behind-the-scenes kind of science, but I didn’t know what field that was.”

It was during this time when Akala and her advisor had a discussion about clinical laboratory sciences.

“My advisor told me about clinical lab sciences, and it just kind of clicked,” said Akala.

From that moment, Akala’s aspirations in laboratory sciences continued. She graduated from VCU in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in clinical laboratory sciences and minor in chemistry. Having been awarded a two-year contract to work in a laboratory at the University of Virginia, Akala immediately went to work as a clinical laboratory scientist. However, being away from Richmond made her realize how much she missed it. After fulfilling her role at UVa, Akala returned to the Richmond area to work as a clinical laboratory generalist for Bon Secours.

She came full circle back to VCU, and decided to pursue a Masters in Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

Akala says she felt as if she had done everything, and was hungry for more. Akala could see herself in a leadership role, but knew that obtaining a Master’s degree would be part of her journey.

“For me to come back and get my Masters in clinical lab sciences, and to focus in chemistry was mind blowing,” said Akala, who previously struggled with chemistry as an undergraduate. “I actually grew to love chemistry to the point where I excelled in it.”

Her role in the laboratory continued at VCU Health, first as a clinical laboratory scientist, and then as a senior medical laboratory scientist – a position she held until she graduated in May 2022.

Modesola Akala and spouse dressed in blue at their wedding
Modesola and her husband celebrated a multi-day traditional Yoruba wedding wedding in 2021.

On top of being a full-time student and working in the lab full-time, Akala planned her dream wedding on her own. Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, the wedding was postponed to 2021 because of COVID. Coming from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, Akala married the love of her life in a multi-day traditional Yoruba wedding. This month, her husband also will graduate from VCU with a Masters in mechanical and nuclear engineering.

“Modesola has followed a very successful educational and career path in laboratory medicine, beginning with her education at the community college through completing her MS degree,” said Teresa Nadder, Ph.D., chair and associate professor in the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences. “From the start, she impressed me with her positive attitude and endless enthusiasm for her profession and the opportunity to advance her knowledge in the field.

Earlier this year, Akala was awarded a Distinguished Abstract Award from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) for her abstract titled, “Potential Detection of 58 Fentanyl Analogs in Urine Using Fentanyl Immunoassays.” Her abstract was one of 19 accepted for the 2022 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting, selected for scientific excellence by a panel of academy fellows. Her abstract was chosen out of 640 submissions. 

“It's something I was really interested in and passionate about, and I didn't want to do research where it was just going sit on the shelf,” said Akala. “I wanted to do research that would be used on a daily basis, to help other labs and help other patients. That's where I feel like my passion kind of poured into it.”

AACC Academy is composed of more than 600 doctoral level clinical biochemists and is dedicated to advancing scholarship in the field of laboratory medicine.

Akala credits William Korzun, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical chemistry and instrumentation in the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Nadder and other faculty members for instilling in her the drive to help her succeed.

“Honestly, everything they said was right. You know, clinical chemistry, clinical life sciences – they don’t have to be stepping stones. They are careers,” she said. “I love what I do every day and I cannot thank the faculty enough for it because I saw their passion as I was going through the program. All of the instructors really made an impact because laboratory science was their career. This is my career and I don't see myself doing anything else.”

Today, Akala serves as a laboratory manager at HCA Kingwood in Houston, where she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the lab. She also visits Lone Star College in Texas to speak to students regularly about the field of medical laboratory sciences.

“Dr. Korzun and Dr. Nadder were always so supportive. They pushed me and supported me by giving me the drive that I needed to succeed,” said Akala. “And to Dr. Korzun, I really should have listened more in chemistry class!"

For more on Medical Laboratory Sciences at VCU, visit the Medical Laboratory Science departmental website.

College of Health Professions Alumni Spotlight: Evangeline Yoder, PT, MS, DHSC

Evangeline Yoder was first introduced to the physical therapy profession as a child while being treated by an orthopaedic surgeon in Richmond named Dr. Thomas Wheeldon. Yoder had adolescent idiopathic scoliosis – an abnormal curvature of the spine that appears in late childhood or adolescence. Wheeldon received accreditation in 1931 from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to establish the first physical therapy school “in the south” at Richmond Professional Institute, the forerunner of the Medical College of Virginia’s (MCV) physical therapy program.

T. Greg Prince, senior director of development at the College of Health Professions and Evangeline Yoder, a 1962 graduate of VCU Physical Therapy
T. Greg Prince, senior director of development at the College of Health Professions and Evangeline Yoder, a 1962 graduate of VCU Physical Therapy.

She studied in the PT program and graduated from MCV in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. The department chair during this time was Susanne Hirt, RPT, M.Ed.

“Miss Hirt developed and taught an intensely rigorous and demanding curriculum for aspiring therapists,” said Yoder, who also recalls the words of a 1953 graduate ‘she could put the fear of God in you with just one look.’”

Yoder began practicing at a rehabilitation center in Cleveland, and after a year, she traveled to England for experience in caring for patients with spinal cord injuries at the National Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Center in Aylesbury, England. The center was founded in 1943 by Sir Ludwig Guttman – a medical pioneer in treating post WWII victims of spinal injury, and originator of the 1948 Paralympic Games.

With the practice of physical therapy expanding in the 1960’s to include neurophysiological approaches, Yoder took a post-graduate course in neurodevelopmental treatment in London, and a residency in proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation in Vallejo, Ca. She also learned physiotherapy procedures for patients with vestibular disorders conceived by otoneurologist Sir Terrance Cawthorne.

Another area of Yoder’s training took place at the Bad Ragaz Medical Center – Medizinische Abteilung in the Swiss Alps. She acquired skills in aquatic therapy, while also learning German and skiing on the alpine slopes.

In the 1970’s physical therapy practice expanded in the USA to include orthopaedic manual therapy procedures. Yoder took courses with Dr. James Cyriax and Freddy Kaltenborn, PT, DO, followed by a certification course in spinal manipulation with Geoffrey Maitland, PT in Adelaide, Australia.

Yoder says these experiences proved to be invaluable during her more than 20 years of clinical practice, in a variety of settings, and later as a professor in academic settings.

“I especially treasure the enduring friendships forged with other globe-trotting physios,” she said. “To this day, we still commiserate about our golden years as therapists.”

Yoder spent the latter 20 years of her career as a teacher. She says she is especially grateful for the mentorship of Otto D. Payton, who was once chair of the MCV Physical Therapy Master’s program.

Department of Physical Therapy names interim chair

Oct. 31, 2022

Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Health Professions has named Benjamin Darter, P.T., Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. Darter replaces Michel Landry, Ph.D., former department chair.

“In our search for the next chair, we hope to find someone who embraces a shared vision for what I think is an outstanding culture of mutual respect, and a focus on strengthening our already highly successful, highly reputable program,” said Darter. “I feel fortunate stepping into this role with a certain level of confidence that those who are here to support me are very experienced and very good at what they do.”

Darter’s primary research and clinical interests are in the areas of rehabilitation following extremity amputation, optimization of gait performance, and overall health promotion. He teaches courses in orthotics and prosthetics, and applied exercise physiology in the entry level Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

“Ben’s leadership and outstanding focus on research will allow him to maintain VCU’s excellent physical therapy program,” said Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health Professions and Sentara Professor of Health Administration. “I am thrilled he will serve in this role as we continue to build upon the department’s long-standing and remarkable reputation.”

A national search for the next department chair will begin immediately, and will be led by the search firm Isaacson Miller.

Who will lead this year's food drive?

In a couple of weeks, the College will launch the annual fall food drive to benefit the Ram Pantry. This special program provides food to VCU students in need. Once again, the food drive will be a competition among CHP units. Last year, the Department of Health Administration collected over 450 pounds of food, and was named winner of the “Cream of the Crop” trophy. As a College, we successfully collected nearly 740 pounds for the Ram Pantry.

Please consider taking part in this important event, which runs Nov. 1 – 15. There are many students across VCU experiencing food insecurity and other challenges. Our food donations help provide meals to ease some of their stresses, allowing them to focus on schoolwork.

Thank you to our food drive organizers, Beth Williamson-Ayers and Cameron Parkins, for partnering with the Division of Student Affairs’ Ram Pantry in coordinating the food drive.

Nurse Anesthesia events drive excellence through continuing education and diversity

Group of students watch ultrasound demonstration.The College of Health Professions Department of Nurse Anesthesia recently hosted the inaugural Nurse Anesthesia Faculty Associates (NAFA) RVA conference. The four-day event featured continuing education activities on diverse and clinically-relevant anesthesia topics. At the culmination of the conference, faculty participants had the opportunity to engage with students, alumni and CRNAs.

On the heels of the NAFA RVA conference, more than 200 critical care nurses of color from across the country interested in nurse anesthesia, came together as part of the Diversity CRNA information session and airway simulation lab workshop. The mission of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program is to inform, empower, and mentor underserved diverse populations with information to prepare them for a successful career in Nurse Anesthesia.

Students ventilating mannequinDemonstration of anesthesia machineStudents gathered around medical mannequin for ultrasound demonstration

Visit Flickr for event photos.

<< < 1 2 3 4 5 6 > >>

Have a story about the College of Health Professions in action that you'd like to share? Contact us at mgburkett@vcu.edu or (804) 828-7247.