Steve Armitage, standing at right, works with a WVU physical therapy student at Country Roads Physical Therapy’s Buckhannon clinic. (WVU Photo/Zane Lacko)
Future physical therapists studying at the West Virginia University School of Medicine will benefit from a new scholarship established by a growing north-central West Virginia practice to help keep skilled clinicians in the state.
Country Roads Physical Therapy established the namesake scholarship to benefit a third-year student in the Division of Physical Therapy. Each recipient must be from West Virginia and demonstrate financial need.
“Country Roads Physical Therapy has been a long-standing supporter and clinical partner of West Virginia University’s physical therapy program, its students and its graduates,” Ivan Mulligan, chair of WVU’s Division of Physical Therapy, said. “They have supported WVU students through the years by providing clinical experiences and were instrumental in assisting our students during the pandemic.
Country Roads physical therapists also provide guest lectures in the classroom, providing students insight into clinical operations. The Country Roads PT Scholarship is another example of their continued support for our program, our students and the West Virginia community. Their generosity to our program is immeasurable, and we are thankful for their continued support and partnership.”
West Virginia natives Mike Barkley and Derek Falkenstein founded Country Roads Physical Therapy in Fairmont in 2006. Since then, the practice has expanded to seven clinic locations spanning Marion, Monongalia, Ohio, Taylor and Upshur counties.
WVU’s physical therapy program marked the 50th anniversary of its first graduating class in May. Since 1972, more than 1,200 physical therapists have graduated from WVU, including many who now work for Country Roads Physical Therapy.
A new scholarship established by Country Roads Physical Therapy aims to keep skilled physical therapists in West Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Country Roads Physical Therapy)
Yet, Steve Armitage, director of Country Roads’ Buckhannon clinic, said leadership has struggled to fill openings for physical therapists as the practice has grown.
“We hope this keeps good clinicians in West Virginia,” Armitage said. “For the past few years, it’s been challenging for many businesses, including Country Roads, to fill physical therapy positions. We’ve had a tough time getting physical therapists to come to the state, let alone getting new graduates to stay in the state. As a result, our existing team has been forced to work harder to ensure we can appropriately serve our patients and meet their needs.”
Armitage noted that the physical therapy landscape in West Virginia is changing, but Country Roads Physical Therapy remains committed to providing the best care for patients by offering personalized one-on-one services.
“This scholarship is a way to help a student with West Virginia ties to hopefully stay in West Virginia and continue to provide good services to the area, so we’re not losing more and more people,” Armitage said. “If they work for us, that’s just a plus."
Country Roads Physical Therapy’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.