Marymount partners with MedStar Health to enhance learning opportunities, scholarships for Physical Therapy students

Marymount partners with MedStar Health to enhance learning opportunities, scholarships for Physical Therapy students


Students in Marymount University’s Physical Therapy programs can now receive new scholarships and enhanced training inside and outside the classroom through a new and innovative partnership with MedStar Health. This includes five $20,000 scholarships that MedStar Health will offer students in Marymount’s three-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.

“We are committed to providing the finest education for our students to achieve the highest level in their careers and provide our region with the finest specialized health care providers,” said Dr. Pamela Slaven-Lee, Dean of Marymount University’s College of Health and Education. “This collaboration with MedStar Health will significantly enhance our students’ classroom work and draw students to areas where the population demonstrates an increased demand for physical therapy services.”

“We’re creating a trend-setting learning environment that is without walls. It is realistic, impacts students, is sensitive to the needs of the health care environment and enhances an already exceptionally strong curriculum at Marymount University,” added John Brickley, Vice President of MedStar Health Physical Therapy. “This partnership will further augment the already outstanding work Marymount does to prepare Physical Therapy students for the new health care environment that has evolved post-pandemic by learning side-by-side from physical therapists and other health care specialists who are currently working in their field.”

In recent years, DPT programs nationwide have seen a drop in applications. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of physical therapists to grow 15 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations, with about 13,900 openings for PTs each year, on average, over the decade. Yet, a recent survey from the American Physical Therapy Association found that, on average, outpatient providers are operating with a vacancy rate of about 11 percent, with company growth topping the reasons for an increase in openings for physical therapists, physical therapy assistants and support staff.

“The national health care worker shortage that includes physical therapists is real,” Brickley said. “And down the road, patients who need physical therapy in our community will start to feel this negative trend unless we address the need now by enticing future PT students to the region with a unique curriculum and financial assistance. This partnership with Marymount will encourage large numbers of those graduating to remain in the Greater Washington, D.C., and Baltimore region and will enable MedStar Health to meet the physical therapy needs of our expanding communities. Marymount graduates will have the opportunity to move quickly into good paying and satisfying jobs in a variety of rewarding specialty areas of rehabilitation.”

Some of these specialties include:

  • Orthopedic/musculoskeletal (spine, extremity, sports medicine)
  • Oncology
  • Neurologic (stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, MS, etc.)
  • Amputee
  • Concussion
  • Adult transplant
  • Pediatrics
  • Performance enhancement

Students can shadow and interact with applicable surgical procedures alongside some of the most talented and specialized surgeons and health care providers. Additionally, guest lecturers across MedStar Health are being integrated in Marymount’s educational models, supplementing the curriculum in unique and dynamic ways. Some of the disciplines include:

  • Therapists (physical, occupational and speech-language pathology)
  • Multispecialty physicians (primary care sports medicine, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, neurology and physical medicine and rehabilitation)
  • Certified athletic trainers across diverse athletic training and team environments

Dr. Jacob Shilling, a physical therapist with MedStar Health and a 2022 graduate of Marymount’s DPT program, is enthusiastic about the benefits of the partnership with his alma mater in a profession where he’s found his passion.

“It’s really rewarding,” Shilling said. “What really drew me to physical therapy was seeing that week-by-week change in a patient. Seeing patients sometimes twice a week over a six-to-eight-week period, I’d get a front row seat to their progress and know that I was part of it.”

Because of this collaboration, students will have access to MedStar Health Physical Therapy’s Environment of Learning. This enrichment program offers extensive educational workshops, seminars, physician shadowing and specialty mentorships across a spectrum of therapy program areas.

“I think Marymount students will greatly benefit from this partnership with MedStar Health,” Shilling said. “In my case, between having a clinical rotation with MedStar Health as a student and then getting hired by them, and starting their new hire mentorship program, it felt like a seamless transition from being a student to being a full-on physical therapist. A lot of new PT grads feel like they’re on an island, going from school to the profession without a similar connection. And MedStar Health has a good educational environment, so learning is constant.”

“This is an exciting time to study and prepare for a career in physical therapy at Marymount, with more opportunities for important real-world experience than ever before,” added Dr. Skye Donovan, Director of Marymount University’s School of Health Sciences. “Our students will be deeply enriched by these new learning opportunities with MedStar Health, and our communities will benefit from the expertise these new practitioners have gained. It’s a ‘win’ for everyone.”

The academic partnership began this fall, with the first scholarships set to be awarded in Fall 2024.