UNC Multiple Sclerosis Curriculum Grads Become MS Certified Specialists

Erica Byrne Gaskins (DPT ’10) and Melissa Mahon (DPT ’10) recently passed the Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist exam, the final step in a certification process sponsored by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC).

UNC Multiple Sclerosis Curriculum Grads Become MS Certified Specialists click to enlarge Erica Byrne Gaskins, left, and Melissa Mahon, right, work with UNC Hospitals PT Diane Meyer and a volunteer.

As the preeminent professional organization for MS health care providers, the CMSC developed the certification to formally recognize the specialized body of knowledge that is necessary to provide optimal care for individuals and families living with MS.

Gaskins and Mahon are the first two graduates of UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy’s innovative Multiple Sclerosis Scholarship Curriculum. The program, now designated as the MS Standardized Training and Education Program with University Partners (MS STEP UP: UNC PT), was founded by UNC PT faculty member and Carolina alumna Angela Rosenberg, PT, DPH. Dr. Rosenberg recognized the paucity of physical therapists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of MS after her own MS diagnosis six years ago in the prime of her career as a faculty member and leadership consultant. Armed with passion and partners, Rosenberg encouraged the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society to team with UNC PT to develop this groundbreaking scholarship and education track in 2008.

Angela Rosenberg

“This type of academic–advocacy organization partnership to provide a multi-faceted curriculum model is the only one of its kind in the country,” said Rosenberg. “MS STEP UP: UNC PT seeks not only to produce clinicians with a thorough understanding of MS, but also to educate the physical therapy community at large and create a curriculum model that can be emulated by other physical therapy programs nationwide. And the program is doing just that, gaining interest from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as well as PT programs in Florida, New York, and California."

The Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society provided funding to initiate the UNC Physical Therapy MS curriculum for the 2008-09 academic year. In 2011, the chapter made a new commitment of $105,000 over three years to support a total of six scholars, as well as funds for faculty curriculum development. UNC PT faculty members are using the resources for activities, including follow-ups with on-site clinical preceptors, student evaluations, curriculum evaluation, faculty-student mentorship, and academic advising.

Angela Rosenberg, second from left, with
MS Scholars Kasey Gore, Kelly Thomas,
April Fay, Cari Eicher, Melissa Mahon,
and Erica Gaskins.

The Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society’s generosity has already had a positive impact for eight UNC PT students, and in the long term, it will help shape state and national physical therapy education and ultimately wellness approaches and rehabilitation for MS patients. Gaskins and Mahon have continued their interest in working with people living with MS as employees in the rehab department at Raleigh Neurology Associates. They are also heavily involved with the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society as volunteers, serving on the chapter’s PT Volunteer Leadership Team, which Erica now chairs. In August of 2011, Kasey Gore and Kelly Thomas became the second DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) students to graduate from the MS Curriculum. Click here to meet the current MS Scholars and learn more about the program, or scroll down for more MS STEP UP: UNC PT news.

MS Scholars and Faculty Attend CMSC Annual Conference

MS Scholars April Fay and Cari Eicher
at the CMSC Conference.

UNC PT MS Scholars Cari Eicher, April Fay, and Kasey Gore, and PT Associate Professor Angela Rosenberg, attended the CMSC Annual Conference from May 30-June 2, 2011, in Montreal, Canada.

The conference exposed students to the latest research, equipment, and therapies for the management and treatment of MS through informative sessions led by members of the MS Society, neurologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, drug company representatives, and psychologists.

Students expanded awareness of the UNC Physical Therapy MS Scholarship Curriculum through two poster presentations, “Evaluation of a MS Educational Track For Physical Therapy Students” and “A Multi-Component Curriculum to Educate Physical Therapy Students on Multiple Sclerosis Related Competencies: A Blended Learning Approach,” and through numerous informal exchanges with other educators and health care providers at the conference.

“The opportunity to attend CMSC and present our UNC MS STEP UP model, curriculum, and evaluation outcomes was a fantastic opportunity for our scholars,” said Rosenberg. “All signs and indicators suggest this is only the beginning for this innovative program. It seems there is no telling what ‘passion and persistence’ can create.”

2011 Casino Solas Helps Support UNC PT MS Curriculum

Casino Solas MC Sharon Delaney,
MS Scholars April Fay and Kelly Thomas,
Casino Solas MC Greg Fishel, and
MS Scholars Kasey Gore and Cari Eicher.

The Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society Volunteer Leadership Team hosted “Casino Solas,” a fundraising masquerade and casino night, for over one hundred people in February 2011 at Solas in Raleigh.

Proceeds from the event are used by the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society to help support the nation’s first physical therapy curriculum and scholarship program targeted specifically for MS patients at UNC Chapel Hill’s Division of Physical Therapy. Each year four students receive UNC PT MS Scholarships.

UNC PT Hosts Reception for National MS Society President

The UNC Chapel Hill Division of Physical Therapy hosted a reception for National Multiple Sclerosis Society President and CEO Joyce Nelson on November 3, 2010, at the UNC Health Sciences Library. UNC PT MS Scholarship recipients and faculty members delivered presentations on the purpose and progress of the MS Scholarship Curriculum at UNC.


UNC Associate Professor Lisa Johnston, MS Scholar Kelly Thomas, MS Scholar Cari Eicher,
PT Associate Professor Angela Rosenberg, MS Scholar Kasey Gore, Division of PT Director Rick Segal,
MS Scholar April Fay, Chuck Willingham, MS Scholar Melissa Mahon, UNC Hospitals PT Diane Meyer,
Joyce Nelson, and MS Scholar Erica Byrne.