UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy MS Scholarship

Improving the Quality of Care

Recognizing an urgent need for physical therapists with expertise in treating Multiple Sclerosis, the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society teamed with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Division of Physical Therapy to develop a ground-breaking scholarship and education track that benefits four Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students each year. The UNC Physical Therapy MS curriculum is the only one of its kind in the country and seeks not only to produce clinicians with a thorough understanding of MS, but also to educate the physical therapy community at large and develop teaching strategies that can be emulated by other PT programs.

Our goal is to improve the quality of care for individuals with MS by increasing the number of physical therapists who have specialized MS knowledge, clinical expertise, and experience. To reach this goal, the MS Scholarship Committee seeks to create a permanent MS Scholarship endowment at the Medical Foundation of NC, Inc. that will generate the annual investment income necessary to provide scholarship support and the resources needed for faculty curriculum development.

National Need

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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that attacks the central nervous system. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2.5 mil worldwide. Physical therapy is often the only treatment that can positively impact those MS patients who, to date, have not responded to pharmacological advances.

Physical therapists provide a full spectrum of care for individuals with MS by instructing them in new movement strategies to relieve pain and improve balance and mobility. PTs can help reduce fatigue and enable patients with MS to feel and function their best at home and at work.

North Carolina Need

About 11,000 North Carolinians are living with MS. The Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society realized the paucity of physical therapists trained in the treatment of multiple sclerosis a few years ago when they were asked to provide a list of physical therapists with expertise in treating MS patients. The chapter could not identify any PTs who met that criterion.

Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society’s Commitment

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Realizing that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has one of the premier programs in Physical Therapy education in the nation, the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society has partnered with the Division of Physical Therapy to fund a MS physical therapy scholarship and education track, which has benefited four DPT students annually since 2007.

In 2013, the Chapter renewed a three-year commitment to provide the funding for UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy student scholarships for the 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16 academic years. In addition, the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society committed resources for our faculty's curriculum development activities, including follow-ups with on-site clinical preceptors, student evaluations, curriculum evaluation, faculty student mentorship, and academic advising.

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Building the Endowment

We now seek tax-deductible contributions from alumni, colleagues, friends, and others to build a permanent endowment at the Medical Foundation of NC Inc. that will generate annual investment income to support four UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy scholarships and provide the resources needed for curriculum development. Our long-term goals for the UNC Chapel Hill MS Physical Therapy endowment are to:

  • Attract exceptional students from North Carolina and around the world to become physical therapists with MS expertise,
  • Create an innovative and cutting edge curriculum,
  • Improve the quality of care for individuals with MS, and
  • Build the national reputation of the UNC Chapel Hill Division of Physical Therapy as a center of MS excellence

Leading the Nation

It is our wish to make the UNC PT/MS scholarship become self sustaining so that it is a permanent addition to the physical therapy curriculum. We hope you will consider helping us to identify individuals who might be interested in making a lasting investment in improving the care for individuals with MS.

UNC PT Points of Pride

High national rankings—US News and World Report ranked UNC Physical Therapy:

  • 11th out of over 200 programs in 2008 and
  • 4th ranked public university

Exceptional students—95-100% of our UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy DPT graduates pass the boards on the first try.

Areas of interest—Orthopedics, MS, neuromuscular, pediatrics, sports-related physical therapy

Quality education programs—We offer three challenging graduate level-degree programs to educate the nation’s best physical therapists and human movement science researchers:

  • Entry to Profession Doctor of Physical Therapy (eDPT)
  • Transitional Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy (tDPT)
  • Interdisciplinary Human Movement Science (PhD)

Faculty and research excellence—Our Center for Human Movement Science now features the Interdisciplinary Human Movement Research Laboratory with the capacity to offer virtual reality research experience.

Accomplished alumni—We are very proud of our over 1,300 alumni with accomplishments ranging from becoming president of the American Physical Therapy Association to being in the state legislature or being prolific contributors to the physical therapy literature

Meet the 2014-15 UNC PT MS Scholarship Recipients

Words cannot express the depth of my appreciation for being involved with MS STEP UP.  Over the last year, I have been mentored by multiple esteemed clinicians and researchers who have helped me develop my goals and refine my clinical reasoning.  Another MS Scholar and I presented competency and activity accomplishments for the first four cohorts of MS Scholars at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Conference, and our abstract got published!  Most importantly, I have been able to get involved in the care of individuals with MS. When people ask me why I got involved with MS, I tell them about some of the stories I have encountered.  One gentleman struggled to walk, which prevented him from watching his son play baseball.  Another young lady had back spasms that woke her and her husband up at night.  I became involved and stay involved with individuals with MS in an attempt to give them back some control and functionality in the midst of chaos.  It is both humbling and rewarding to work with this population, and I owe the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society and UNC a debt of gratitude for their commitment to training specialized therapists for individuals with MS."

Joseph William Miller, MS Scholarship Recipient, UNC-EDPT Class of 2015

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"I am excited and honored to be part of the UNC MS STEP UP Scholarship program.  I want to bring back hope to the lives of people with Multiple Sclerosis and help them find ways to rediscover the activities they love.  I strive to be a part of the health care team that serves the people who have MS, not just MS the disease.  Physical Therapy plays a powerful role in the management of symptoms and fighting to maintain the independence patients strive for.  There is so much unknown left to discover and so much left for me to learn, and I am thankful for this opportunity to grow in the field of PT.  From research to advocacy to community education, I want to join the team to help finish this uncompleted work.  I know that my preparation through this program will allow me to excel in making a lifetime of positive impact.  I realize it is more than earning the title of Doctor of Physical Therapy, it is learning how to impact and change individuals and communities, and this scholarship has allowed me to be one step closer to my dream."

Alexis Ann Williams, MS Scholarship Recipient, UNC-DPT Class of 2016

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"I am deeply thankful to have been awarded the UNC MS Curriculum Scholarship so that I may pursue an academic track with a focus on Multiple Sclerosis. I have always been interested in neurology and knew that I would travel down a career path in neurological rehabilitation. However, for over a year I have been drawn to the MS patient population through wonderful opportunities working closely with them while observing physical therapists that specialize in the this area. I discovered a passion and calling to work with these patients. Additionally, I not only hope to work in the clinic with this population but I would like to explore options in research. In this way, I hope to increase our growing knowledge of this complex disease such as sustainability of quality of life through rehabilitation. I am honored to be a MS Scholar and look forward to contributing to this unique and wonderful Scholarship opportunity.”
Heather Lynn Eustis, MS Scholarship Recipient, UNC-EDPT Class of 2015

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Participating in the MS STEP UP program is a great honor, and I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for this opportunity.  I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with amazing people who live with MS, and I am grateful for this chance for additional study and focused experiences that will prepare me to better serve those who live with the disease.  Through the knowledge and skills I gain from MS STEP UP, I hope to find ways to improve access to MS-specific services for patients who live in remote areas and to promote approaches to therapy that not only address physical health, but also support mental and emotional health in patients with this chronic disease.  Thank you again to the program supporters; I am deeply inspired by these patients and hope to serve them throughout my physical therapy career, by helping to advance physical therapy approaches to treating patients with MS and by improving my patients’ quality of life, as a direct result of this extraordinary opportunity.

Corinne Joell Bohling, MS Scholarship Recipient, UNC-EDPT Class of 2016

Make a Gift

Online Credit Card Gifts to the UNC-Chapel Hill Physical Therapy
MS Curriculum & Scholarship Fund

It's easy and secure! Follow the three-step instructions below to make an online credit card gift.

Step 1: Visit the UNC-Chapel Hill PT Online Giving Page

Click here to visit the UNC-Chapel Hill Physical Therapy online credit card gift page.

Step 2: Designate Your Gift

In the designation drop down menu, select Physical Therapy MS Curriculum and Scholarship.

Step 3: Make Your Gift

Please provide the personal and credit card information requested and make your gift. Thank you for your support!

 

For more information, contact Kyle Gray, Director of Development for the Division of Physical Therapy, at 919.966.3352 or kyle_gray@med.unc.edu.