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Duke DPT students, Colin Wiest, Rachel Nobbs, and Joseph Drobka, selected for Health Professions VA Scholarship Program

Education and Training

We would like to congratulate Duke DPT students, Colin Wiest, Rachel Nobbs, and Joseph Drobka, who were selected for the Health Professions VA Scholarship Program (HPSP). The scholarship provides full tuition for one year, as well as a stipend for a year that can be repayed by working at the VA for two years after graduation. HPSP provides scholarships to students receiving education or training in a direct or indirect health-care services discipline, to assist VA in providing an adequate supply of such personnel for VA and the United States. According to the directors, there were 1500 total applicants for all spots (not just PT), and 10 PT students were picked. Therefore, Duke represents 20% of awarded PTs.

When asked how she became interested in PT and her plans for after graduation, Rachel said:

I became interested in PT after I interned with my soccer coach’s wife, who owned her own clinic. I love being able to help people change their lives through exercise. I enjoy being able to work as part of a healthcare team and love how PTs can work with so many patient populations. 

After graduation, I am thrilled to be a part of the VA Health Care System. It is an honor to be able to serve veterans as well as be a part of a large research institute that is pushing  many fields of health care forward. I am looking forward to my year of clinical rotations to fine-tune my interests and determine which VA facility I will work in!  

Colin also explained:

"I always had an interest in human physiology and what we are capable of as people.  I think similar to many others, I experienced the effect health and injuries have on your daily life and how a physical therapist can help get you back doing the things you want and need to do.  When I started shadowing and working as a personal trainer I got inspired by the stories, the recovery, and the appreciation patients had.  I have always wanted to be someone who could make a positive, tangible impact in this world and I felt this was how I could do that in a career I would also enjoy on a personal level.  

I am excited to join a VA health care facility and focus on providing the best patient care possible while also examining big picture solutions for improving care.  I hope to rise up as part of the next generation of Duke health professionals that surge forward like those before us."

Duke DPT Program Director, Dr. Chad Cook, shared in the students' excitement:

"We are always proud of our Duke DPT students’ successes, such as obtaining the Health Professions VA Scholarship. But what sets our Duke DPT students apart from others is their underlying, selfless, service-oriented motive for pursuing this scholarship. Colin and Rachael are both examples of two individuals who have pursued the profession of physical therapy for noble reasons, and our division is honored that they are part of our family.”