New physical therapy residency will focus on cardiovascular and pulmonary patients

WVU and WVU Medicine partner on developing program

New physical therapy residency will focus on cardiovascular and pulmonary patients

West Virginia University plans to offer a new Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy Clinical residency program beginning in July 2024.

The residency will be the only program of its kind offered in West Virginia and is a collaboration between the School of Medicine Physical Therapy and its academic medical partner, WVU Medicine’s Rehabilitation Services.

The American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education granted WVU’s program “developing status,” a step toward candidacy approval. The Board accredits programs to prepare graduates to become board-certified clinical specialists in their practice area.

Once approved for candidacy, the program will initially accept one resident per year and will be one of only 13 such residencies in the United States in this specialty area.

Organizers say the program meets a growing demand for specialized services. According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, more than half of all adult West Virginians are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease due to high rates of obesity and diabetes, use of tobacco, physical inactivity, and limited access to resources for a healthier lifestyle, especially in rural communities.

Residents will receive mentored clinical training in therapy in various care settings, from intensive care to acute medical and surgical rehabilitation to outpatient cardiopulmonary rehab, prevention/wellness, and home care observations. In addition to providing direct patient care as fully licensed physical therapists at the hospital, residents will participate in academic coursework and research led by cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy faculty.

Kari Divito
Kari DiVito, D.P.T.,
residency program coordinator

“By increasing access to specialty-trained therapy care, we hope to empower our patients to maximize their function and independence despite chronic cardiopulmonary disease,” Kari DiVito, D.P.T., residency program coordinator, said.

DiVito, a cardiopulmonary specialist with WVU Medicine’s Rehabilitation Services, says she sees the positive impact physical therapy can have on cardiovascular and pulmonary patients from the hospital to their homes, and the program’s curriculum will account for those cases.

WVU Medicine leaders say the residency is a continued commitment to their patients and the physical therapists they employ.

“By providing specialized training and mentorship, the residency program will equip therapists with advanced skills and knowledge to deliver the highest quality of care to the patients of West Virginia,” Bruce McKee, director of Rehabilitation Services at WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, said.

Once fully accredited, this will be the third post-professional physical therapy residency program offered by the University.

For more information about the Division of Physical Therapy’s residency programs, visit


cat 11/29/23


Cassie Thomas
Director, Communications and Marketing
WVU School of Medicine