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University of Jamestown physical therapy program launches in Fargo

Students Holly Terres and Gannon Kriel consult their notes during a "Human Anatomy for Physical Therapy" lab Wednesday morning at the University of Jamestown's new satellite location in Fargo.

FARGO -- The University of Jamestown welcomed a class of 36 students this fall to its new Fargo-based doctorate of physical therapy program.

The school's only satellite program is housed about 90 miles from the college at a new $1.7 million facility at 4190 26th Ave. S. in Fargo.

Students who are the first to attempt to earn their three-year doctorate degrees from the University of Jamestown are taking a gamble because the program is not yet accredited, said Director Nancy Nuzzo.

School leaders found out in late July the program is a candidate for accreditation from the Virginia-based Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Nuzzo said it's a "pretty good gamble," though, because the college is doing everything it can to ensure accreditation. It sends periodic status reports and updates the accreditation agency about major changes -- like the school's name change last month.

Before the fall 2013 class is ready to graduate, team members from the accreditation body will visit Fargo and evaluate the program.

Even with the looming accreditation status, there was a wait list this year for the program that can only accommodate 36 students per class, said Tim McCrory, admissions representative.

Most of those students are local, including University of Jamestown graduates and 18 students from the Tri-College University, a consortium of Minnesota State University Moorhead, Concordia College in Moorhead and North Dakota State University.

While the school welcomes its new doctoral students, the Fargo-Moorhead community has embraced the University of Jamestown. The physical therapy program has partnerships with many area physical therapy practitioners, and Essentia Health, Sanford Health and Family Health Care.

Some of those sites will be home to students' clinical rotations, but the school also has partners in places as far away as Kansas and Idaho.

Even in its first year, the program is looking to increase the number of clinical partners it has, said Phyllis Heyne-Lindholm, director of clinical education. The school could expand clinical sites to California and Alaska, or even internationally.

Locally, students may also have "short episodes of clinic practice in pro bono clinics with faculty supervisors," Heyne-Lindholm said.

As the University of Jamestown tests the waters in Fargo with its physical therapy program, a dozen area business and community leaders will serve on an advisory committee.

Among the board members are several University of Jamestown alumni, including former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness and Connie Altringer, business manager for Microsoft.

The list also includes health professionals such as Dr. Gregory Glasner, president and chief medical officer for Essentia Health Fargo, and Dr. Dennis Millirons, president at Sanford Health Fargo.