Dr. William J. Fritz signs the Memorandum of Understanding for the groundbreaking new Physical Therapy program with Yongming Shou from Shaoxing University.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation in China are currently provided by untrained individuals who are mostly physical educators, and the number of individuals requiring rehabilitation in China is staggering.

To help with this situation, delegates from Shaoxing University in the Zhejiang Provence of China met on the College of Staten Island campus with key members of CSI’s faculty and staff, headed by Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, Dr. Jeffrey Rothman.

Their goal is to develop a high-quality physical therapy educational program for China that would meet North American standards of accreditation.

With only one physical therapy education program in China located at the Polytech University in Hong Kong, the Shaoxing University delegates are aiming to form relationships with North American colleges and universities that can assist them in collaborating with faculty from Shaoxing on matters related to curriculum, course content, and research with a possible exchange program for students and faculty envisioned for the future.

The delegation was welcomed to CSI by Dr. Rothman and Dr. Stephen Ferst, Executive Director, Center for International Service, as they went on a tour of the CSI Department of Physical Therapy to meet with its faculty members. They soon met with CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz,  Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Fred Naider, Dean of Science and Technology Dr. Alex Chigogidze, and Professor Maureen Becker, Director of Clinical Education, Department of Physical Therapy and Interim Founding Dean of the School of Health Sciences, and signed the letter of intent to memorialize the collaboration and promote relations and mutual understating between the institutions.

“I am excited that our Doctor of Physical Therapy students will be offered the potential of overseas study and experience,” Dr. Fritz told the delegates. “We are proud of the opportunity to play a role to assist China in providing competent physical therapy and rehabilitation services.”

Dr. Fritz also noted that the collaboration will “increase the civic prosperity of Staten Island,” and informed the delegates of the College’s Interdisciplinary High Performance Computing Center and “the opportunities it provides our students.” He also discussed the recent creation of three new schools on campus, the School of Business, the School of Education, and the School of Health Sciences.

Dr. Rothman, working with Dr. Robert Chen, an internationally renowned sports physical therapist, met with the visiting Shaoxing University faculty and administrators in order to begin a valuable relationship that will see CSI’s Department of Physical Therapy program faculty, staff, and students assist in establishing Shaoxing University’s Physical Therapy program to meet the tremendous needs for rehabilitation services for its large population. Dr. Rothman, during his visit with Dr Chen last year, toured several rehabilitation centers in China. It was evident during his visit, and following discussions with medical staff, that there is a high number of children in China with physical disabilities and adults with a multitude of physical and motoric problems that would benefit greatly from physical therapy services.

This collaboration with Shaoxing University will also allow for faculty and student exchange between the respective universities. In addition, CSI DPT students will be offered the potential for overseas study experience in their professional field, including, but not limited to, strengthening clinical practical training in Shaoxing University’s affiliated hospitals and expertise in Chinese traditional medicine and knowledge.

Shaoxing University considered several other U.S. physical therapy programs including a prestigious Manhattan-based private university, but decided to work with CSI after reviewing the curriculum and program resources, and meeting with CSI’s international office and administrative support.

The meeting with the delegation from Shaoxing was such a success that the University has also expressed interest in collaborating with other academic fields of study at CSI, including Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Nursing, Education, Engineering, and Business.

By establishing a collaborative relationship with Shaoxing University, CSI has the opportunity to play a monumental role in assisting China in providing competent physical therapy and rehabilitation services that are urgently needed by the Chinese population, while greatly enhancing the international reputation and presence of CSI and CUNY.