Physical Therapy Students, Faculty Volunteer at Music City Skate Jam

Students from the Belmont University School of Physical Therapy recently volunteered at the inaugural Music City Skate Jam. Multi-platinum singer/songwriter Kip Moore combined his love for music and skateboarding when he teamed up with international skateboarding champion Tony Hawk in downtown Nashville for the charity event.

The day began early in the morning as the students, along with faculty members Drs. Pat Sells and Mike Voight from the School of Physical Therapy, turned Nashville’s Hall of Fame Park into a music venue with an enormous half pipe for the celebrity skate board performers. The free concert and skating exposition, held at Music City Walk of Fame Park, served as a fundraiser to aid hurricane relief. It also brought awareness to both both Moore’s and Hawk’s foundations, which aim to build skate parks for kids in inner cities. Fans who donated were treated to a day of fun-filled events including performances by Jordan Davis, Dee Jay Silver and Moore himself, along with a thrilling skate demo by Tony Hawk.

Physical Therapy Faculty Volunteer at Music Row Ladies Golf Tournament

Belmont University School of Physical Therapy Faculty Members Drs. Pat Sells, Danny Smith and Mike Voight recently volunteered for the 2017 Music Row Ladies Golf Tournament. The event was presented by Keith Urban and sponsored by ASCAP, City National Bank and Tim McGraw.

This long-running charity event has raised more than two million dollars for United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee in its three-decade history. Voight said, “It is fun to participate in an event that we can see fruits of the fund raising efforts. The funds raised help to build wheel chair ramps that physical therapy students go out and volunteer to build.” The 30th annual tournament took place on Monday, August 21 at Old Natchez Country Club in Franklin, Tennessee.

Top 5! Belmont University Lands Near Top of Annual U.S. News Rankings of Southern Colleges

US News Top 5 Banner

University scores accolades for innovation, teaching, veteran support and more

For the ninth consecutive year, Belmont University has again achieved a Top 10 regional ranking with today’s release of U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition of America’s Best Colleges, this year ranking at an impressive No. 5 and remaining the highest ranked university in Tennessee in this category. Moreover, Belmont won the praise of its peers as it was included on a number of additional U.S. News lists that rate institutions on areas critical to student opportunities and success.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “These rankings provide benchmarks that are helpful to us as we work to provide programs that equip our students to go out and make a positive impact in the world. While it is rewarding to see Belmont reach a higher ranking overall, it is especially gratifying to be recognized by our peers for excelling in areas that promote strong outcomes for our students. As a student-centered university, this is at the heart of what we aim to achieve.”

In the publication released today, Belmont is lauded for the tenth year in a row for its commitment to “making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities,” landing second on the “Most Innovative Schools” in the South list. Belmont earned acclaim in the following categories as well:

    • Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching (No. 4 in the South): The strong commitment to undergraduate teaching ranking is determined via a survey of peer institutions, who cite their fellow institutions who best reflect that quality.
    • Best Colleges for Veterans (No. 3 in the South): To be included, institutions must be ranked in the top half of their overall category, be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program with 20 or more veterans/active service members enrolled.
    • Best Value (one of only 64 institutions recognized in the South): The listing takes into account a school’s academic quality and net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.
    • Internships (one of only 20 institutions recognized in the nation): Schools in this category encourage students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to work in the real world through closely supervised internships or practicums.
    • Learning Communities (one of only 18 institutions recognized in the nation): In these communities, students typically take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors well.
    • Service-Learning (one of only 23 institutions recognized in the nation): Required volunteer work in the community is an instructional strategy in these programs—what’s learned in the field bolsters what happens in class and vice versa.
    • Study Abroad (one of only 44 institutions recognized in the nation): Programs must involve substantial academic work abroad and considerable interaction with local culture

Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “This has been an extraordinary fall for Belmont. We started the fall semester Belmont by announcing a record-breaking enrollment number for the 17th consecutive year – reaching a total of 8,080 students on campus. These students remind us every day that they are drawn to Belmont by the diversity and academic strength of our programs as well as by the intentional commitment to student success, as highlighted in the U.S. News rankings. I’m particularly proud of this incoming undergraduate class which brings, on average, the highest entering scores on the ACT (average 26.4) in the past four years. As an institution, we are committed to continue to do our best to fulfill the Belmont mission of providing an academically challenging education that will enable our students to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith.”

The U.S. News analysis places Belmont in a premier position among the 135 public and private institutions included in the South region, an area that covers Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

PT’s Dr. Christi Williams and Her Therapy Dog, Layla, Spend the Summer with Community Children

Children huddle around Layla at Monroe Caroll Jr Children's Hospital

Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Christi Williams spent the summer spreading joy throughout the community with her certified therapy dog, Layla. A 7-year old yellow Labrador Retriever, Layla has been volunteering for the past two years as a certified therapy dog through Pet Partners, a local nonprofit organization. Williams and Layla visit many locations on a volunteer basis, including Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt One Hundred Oaks, to spread smiles to patients and health care providers.

This summer Layla volunteered with Vanderbilt’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic’s Constraint Camp, a camp that focuses on promoting use of the involved upper extremities by casting the uninvolved side. While there, Layla eased the children’s fears and encouraged them to try new and often challenging tasks. They worked on their gross motor skills alongside Layla by petting and brushing her and finding special stickers inside the zippered pocket of her vest. Gathering stickers from her pocket allowed the children to work on these motor skills, while also proudly displaying proof of the day’s therapist — their favorite yellow lab.

Though Layla loves all her time at camp, Williams said one of her highlights is playing fetch with the children and her favorite pink tennis ball. A very challenging task for the kids as it requires skill to grasp, hold and release the ball, they are determined to play alongside Layla. “She is always patiently waiting for them to throw it her way!” Williams said.

One of Layla's many walks throughout the facility.

One of Layla’s many walks throughout the facility.

Children also enjoy taking Layla for a ‘walk’ throughout the facility where a small leash is attached to Layla’s harness for the kids to hold. Despite the physical challenge this can present, they are eager to participate. A physical therapist herself, Williams loves to work with Layla in the rehabilitation setting. “There’s nothing like watching self-doubt immediately turn into pure confidence when Layla’s ‘leash’ is placed in these children’s hands. Their faces change and they no longer think about it as a challenge. They just do it–and with such confidence!”

Layla and Williams also spent time this summer at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital’s Dog Days of Summer “Paw-ty” where Layla, and other certified therapy dogs, joined children in games, activities and more. Children watched the dogs do tricks on stage and received some takeaways, too —  a dog stuffed animal and a paw print stamp of the therapy dogs who participated.

Layla then traveled to Camp TALK, a camp for children with speech deficits, where she taught children about therapy animals. The kids practiced talking to and giving commands to Layla including “sit,” “lay down,” “shake hands” and “high five.” Layla also showed off her catch skills and played hide-and-seek with the kids.

Layla and some children from Monroe Carrell Jr Children's Hospital“For these children, Layla’s presence creates an environment where they are no longer anxious to try new things or speak in front of their peers,” Williams said. “Having Layla in the room shifts the children’s focus from their disability to simply having fun with the dog!”

Visiting with patients and helping children during their rehabilitation is a big part of what Layla does as a certified therapy dog, but she often has the greatest impact on the health care providers who are working alongside their patients. At the Center for Women’s Health, Layla’s “job” is to visit with the nurses and physicians, providing a necessary break during the day.

“This visit tends to be one of Layla’s favorite stops because these nurses spoil her rotten,” Williams said. “She knows exactly who has treats for her and which drawer or cabinet they are stashed in. Being a health-care provider can be very stressful at times, and Layla provides that much-needed mental break!”

Photos courtesy of Vanderbilt Pediatric Rehabilitation at One Hundred Oaks and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 

Physical Therapy and Biology Faculty Collaborate to Publish Study in Teaching Journal

Over the past three years, Belmont’s Department of Biology and School of Physical Therapy have worked together to allow undergraduate anatomy students the opportunity to experience a cadaver-based learning environment. Through this collaborative effort, hundreds of undergraduate students have had the opportunity to participate in this interactive experience.

Additionally, undergraduate anatomy faculty have embraced the opportunity to engage with graduate faculty to improve their teaching skills in a gross anatomy laboratory. This collaborative initiative began to generate learning opportunities for undergraduate anatomy students in the cadaver-based gross anatomy lab. By the end, however, this interdisciplinary work ended with meaningful experiences for all participants.

Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Chris Barton and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Christi Williams documented the interdisciplinary nature of their collaboration, as well as the increased learning outcomes reported by the undergraduate anatomy students, so other institutions can replicate the process.

Their article, “Graduate and Undergraduate Faculty Collaboration Utilizing Peer Observation to Enhance Educational Opportunities for Students and Faculty: A Case Example,” was recently accepted for publication in The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, where Barton and Williams are co-first authors on the study. Dr. John Halle, professor of physical therapy and Dr. Lori McGrew, professor of biology, are additional authors on the accepted manuscript.

Belmont Adds ACE Resource Guide

The Gordon E. Inman Health Sciences building on a spring day with tulips in front of the building.

As part of a grant recently provided by Tennessee and administered through the Department of Children’s Services Building Strong Brains Initiative, Belmont’s College of Health Sciences and Nursing has developed a resource library to promote the understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for health care professionals. The library is part of Belmont’s Educating Trauma Information Professionals project.

Principal investigators Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Nursing Dr. Cathy Taylor and Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Sabrina Sullenberger collaborated with Bunch Library faculty to develop the ACE Resource Guide. The guide provides access to the valuable library of materials collected to support professions that work alongside children and families during sensitive periods of development and beyond. The ACE Resource Guide is available to all Belmont students and faculty and can be accessed here.

Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Students Lead Aquifit for the Nashville Dolphins

OT and PT students work on Aquafit program.

Eight years ago Dr. Natalie Michaels, associate professor of occupational therapy (OT), started the Aquifit program to provide aquatic exercises for wellness, socialization and enjoyment to members of the community. Originally designed to target older adults, Aquifit exercises are performed to music pool-side by physical therapists, occupational therapists, aquatic specialists, OT students and physical therapy (PT) students while community members exercise in the water.

The program has proven successful in aiding members of the older adult community with weight loss and pain reduction,

OT and PT students train with the DolphinsRecently, Aquifit expanded its impact when on Aug. 9, the program was provided to the Nashville Dolphins, a local aquatics program for children and adults with special needs. The Aquifit team was joined by Belmont OT and PT students who helped lead the exercises and assisted participants in the pool. Michaels said that once again the community was “thoroughly impressed by the professionalism and intellect of the Belmont students.”

Michaels was joined by Dr. Timothy Jones (Tennessee State University), Dr. Derek Charles (also from TSU) and Dr Joshua Maloney (Amedisys Home Health). Belmont students who participated in the event included Autumn Powell, Haley Hingtgen and Rachel Morgan from the occupational therapy program as well as Jonathan Lee, Sarah Williams, Kandiss Anderson, Lacie Nugent and Beau Kovach from the physical therapy program.

Approximately 15 members of the Dolphins participated. They reported that they had a “wonderful” and “fun” time, and they really seemed to enjoy their interactions with the Belmont students.

Belmont Wins Inaugural Siloam Health’s Bridge Builder Award

Photo by Brad Moore / B.MOORE VISUALS. retired Belmont employees John and Nancy Le with University President Dr. Bob Fisher and Mrs. Judy Fisher.

Award given to recognize community partner committed to assisting Nashville’s New Americans

In honor of the University’s commitment to helping New Americans throughout the Nashville community, Belmont was recently honored with Siloam Health’s inaugural Bridge Builders Award. Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher accepted the award at Siloam’s Amplify Nashville Awards Ceremony held on June 22 at Oz Arts. Belmont’s award by presented by Milton Johnson, CEO of HCA and Belmont trustee.

Siloam hosted the event to celebrate the immigrants and refugees who contribute to Nashville’s status as a growing, great city. The event celebrated four honorees for their tireless commitment to Nashville’s cultural diversity including:

  • Community Catalyst Award: Kasar Abdulla (Valor Collegiate Academies)
  • Good Neighbor Award: Fabian Bedne (Hispanic Family Foundation and Metro Council)
  • Culture Shaper Award: Cano and Esen Ozgener (OZ Arts Nashville)
  • Bridge Builder Award: Belmont University and Dr. Bob Fisher

Under Fisher’s leadership, Belmont consistently strives to align its vision with the ever-changing needs of its community and works to help New Americans get ahead with their education and in life. The University makes intentional efforts to hire documented, sponsored refugees, encouraging them to take advantage of the University’s educational offerings and covering the cost of ESL courses. Additionally, Belmont considers students living in the United States for admission without regard to immigration standing and offers support to assist foreign-born students with enrollment and the transition to college life.

Additionally, Belmont’s Colleges of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Nursing have been in partnership with Siloam for many years. Dr. Elissa Greene, assistant professor of pharmacy, practices at Siloam when she isn’t teaching at Belmont and hosts student pharmacists daily for clinical rotations. Students serve as resources for medical personnel, make recommendations on medication, provide patient and family counseling and make home visits, among other things. Nursing students also visit Siloam for clinical experiences, faculty members serve as regular volunteers and the College will be partnering with the organization’s faith-based, community health outreach program in the future.

John and Nancy Le, pictured above with Dr. and Mrs. Fisher, were also present at the ceremony. The Les, both retired Belmont employees, came to Nashville from Vietnam 25 years ago under Catholic Charities. They both worked at the University for more than 20 years, and four of their children and grandchildren have attended Belmont. Their story was shared at the event as an example of Belmont’s commitment to Nashville’s new Americans.

“It is so important for Belmont to serve the Nashville community,” Fisher said. “We are honored to call Nashville home, and it’s our privilege to serve our city’s newest residents through educational opportunities, employment and more. Siloam Health continues to do incredible work throughout our city, and we are so grateful to have been recognized with this award.”

PT Students Recognized for Community Service

Each year, doctoral students from the School of Physical Therapy participate in various community service activities, which include partnering with local organizations to build ramps for those in need.  During the spring semester, Belmont PT students marked a milestone by helping the United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee (UCP) and Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) with construction of the 2500th Wheelchair Ramp build in the state-wide collaborative Wheelchair Ramp Program.  The efforts were recognized in local media outlets WSMV and Nashville Community Newspapers.  You can read the stories by clicking on the links above.

Mission to Guatemala: Last days

Today, the nursing/pharmacy team had the privilege of traveling to a prominent coffee plantation and offering a hand. We focused on providing health screenings and education to the plantation workers and their families. We were also able to hand out dental hygiene kits to all the individuals we crossed paths with. One thing that we have really learned on this trip is the value of teamwork. The nursing students, pharmacy students, and a Guatemalan doctor all worked hand in hand to provide this community with access to healthcare. We also got the opportunity to see how this plantation prepares their coffee products. Now not to brag, but if this healthcare stuff does not work out, some of us may have a future in the coffee industry. The highlight of our day was definitely towards the end. As we were passing the horse stables, we saw one of the young boys we had seen on day 1 of this trip. When we first saw him, he was the picture of discomfort and pain. Today, when we asked him how he was feeling, he responded with the biggest smile and an endless amount of gratitude. This was a reminder that all our hard work here was making a difference.

The PT/OT team spent our last workday back at Keramion, the school for special needs children that we visited on Monday. The day began with a bit of dancing, followed by receiving gifts from the children. We were so amazed by the generosity that we were shown and will treasure the gifts as well as the hugs we were given. Afterwards, the OT team saw one more child with autism who had some behavior issues that the mother and teachers wanted to discuss. We were able to provide education on different calming strategies such as deep pressure, bouncing on a ball, and slow swinging. His mom was present and was really interested in learning, and some of the other OT team members also had the chance to interact with child’s younger sister. Following this, the PT and OT students set up a small obstacle course for the children. Due to rain, we had to move it inside, but it still worked! The staff was excited to learn about new ways to engage the children in purposeful play that would encourage practicing different skills such as crawling, jumping, and grasping various objects.

The children headed home after completing the obstacle course so that the afternoon could be used for a staff in-service. Griselda, the school’s founder, also shared more of her incredible testimony with us, and we were able to pray for her which was a very moving experience for everyone involved. The PT students on the team also worked with Griselda on different exercises and were able to give her advice on managing her back pain. It was amazing to see how much she had improved in only a few days! For lunch, Belmont team members treated the staff to spaghetti, and the rest of the day was spent training the staff on specific topics such as sensory integration, proper lifting techniques, and behavior management. All of the staff members were extremely grateful for our help this week. After spending so much time together, it was hard to say goodbye, but we know that the children are in good hands at Keramion and that God is definitely at work there. It was such a blessing to bear witness to this incredible ministry this week.

Written by: Anais, Emily, Alicia, and Hope