Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Core Faculty

Teressa Brown, PT, DPT, PhD, OCSDean, Program Director

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 473-5674
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: tebrown@westcoastuniversity.edu

Biography
Transplanted from the east coast, Dr. Brown has spent five years on the faculty at Simmons College in Boston in the role of Assistant Director of Clinical education and Associate Professor of Practice. Her teaching responsibilities included clinical education, human anatomy, musculoskeletal physical therapy and complex conditions. In addition, as a board certified specialist in orthopedics, Dr. Brown has maintained active clinical practice over the past 10 years, most recently working as a therapist at New England Baptist Hospital and Beverly Hospital in the Boston area. Her research interest is focused on teaching and learning methodologies as well as predictors for success in the classroom and the clinic. Her dissertation is examining current practice for teaching human anatomy in physical therapy education.

Additionally, she has  been exploring the use of Simulated and Standardized patient experiences in physical therapy education and their effect on student learning. Dr. Brown also has APTA certification for both the basic and the advanced clinical instructor program. She is a credentialed trainer for the APTA Clinical Instructor Training Program and has run multiple courses credentialing over 100 new clinical instructors in a variety of health care disciplines.

Education
CAGS, Simmons College, 2011
DPT, Simmons College, 2004
BS, Simmons College, 2002

Links
Publications

Daniel Cipriani, Ph.D., PTProfessor, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 454-5048
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: dcipriani@westcoastuniversity.edu

Biography
Dr. Daniel Cipriani has been a licensed Physical Therapist since 1984 with extensive clinical experiences in the areas of orthopaedic rehabilitation, orthopaedic trauma, and sports medicine. His primary area of clinical expertise focuses on lower extremity biomechanics and injury mechanics, with a special interest in running and cycling related injuries.  He has been involved in academia and research since 1991, beginning his academic career at The Medical College of Ohio (University of Toledo's Health Science campus), moving to San Diego in 2005 to join the faculty at San Diego State University. At SDSU, he helped develop a Masters Degree program in Rehabilitation Science.  Dr. Cipriani also served on the faculty at Chapman University for five years before joining West Coast University.  As a faculty member he has received numerous teaching awards including being a 3-time recipient of the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence at the Medical College of Ohio and the Outstanding Faculty Member at Chapman University.

Dr. Cipriani serves as a manuscript reviewer for numerous professional research journals and he is a member of the International Editorial Board for the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy.  In addition, for several years he served on the main Editorial Board for the Physical Therapy Journal and was awarded Manuscript Reviewer of the Year by the American Physical Therapy Association.

Dr. Cipriani received his B.S. in Physical Therapy at The Ohio State University. He completed his M.S. (Exercise Science and Applied Biomechanics) and Ph.D. (Applied Measurement/Statistics) at the University of Toledo.  His research interests include applied exercise techniques for the enhancement of movement, assessment of orthoses on joint function, and research focusing on the Clinimetric and Psychometric properties of clinical measures.  Dr. Cipriani has authored and co-authored over 30 peer-reviewed research publications, several book chapters, and numerous invited papers.  Abstracts from his research and that of his students have been presented at State and National Physical Therapy and Biomechanics Professional Conferences.  Dr. Cipriani has presented lectures and workshops across the United States and Puerto Rico mostly on the topics of lower extremity biomechanics and orthotic management of foot pathomechanics.

Education
PhD, University of Toledo, 2003
MS in Exercise Science/Applied Biomechanics, University of Toledo, 1992
BS in Physical Therapy, University of Toledo, 1984

Links
Publications
Research Gate Publications
LinkedIn Profile

Sheri Donaldson, PT, DPT, NCSAssistant Professor, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 454-5063
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: sDonaldson@westcoastuniversity.edu

Biography
Dr. Sheri Donaldson arrives from Phoenix and is a native of Arizona with over 19 years experience as a physical therapist. She earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Creighton University in 1997 during an exciting season in our profession with it being the very first entry-level DPT in the country.  She began her Physical Therapy career as Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy at University of Mobile Graduate School of Physical Therapy, known for its purely Problem-Based Learning school.  She returned to her native Arizona to pursue her passion for all things Neurological with 13 years at St. Joseph’s/Barrow Neurological Institute where she had the privilege of specializing her care for people with neurological disorders including Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion, Brain Tumors, Spinal Cord Injury, Movement Disorders, Stroke, Guillain-Barre, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson Disease, Chiari Malformation, Meniere’s Disease, Vestibular Schwannoma, Neuritis/Labyrinthitis, Vestibular Migraine and BPPV.  Dr. Donaldson served on the Barrow Balance Board, to whom she refers as “the Dream Team of Dizziness,” a skilled interdisciplinary team of both brilliant and gregarious professionals for whom she is eternally grateful.  Her practice has included additional outpatient and inpatient settings, along with community work and service on the AzPTA Practice Committee for a number of years.  She has lobbied on Capitol Hill on behalf of some of our country’s most fragile citizens.  She has many years experience in ministries to teens and women.  Dr. Donaldson continued her love for teaching with lecturing for the Barrow Symposia, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Northern Arizona University High Altitude Series, The Missouri State University, AzPTA, and the Banner Stroke Academy. 

Dr. Donaldson is a Neurologic Clinical Specialist certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists. She holds multiple Certificates of Competency in Vestibular Rehabilitation/Vestibular Physical Therapy including at the advanced and pediatric levels through the APTA and University of Miami School of Medicine, Emory School of Medicine, and Specialty Therapy Source in Jacksonville.  She pursued further specialty education for Facial Neuromuscular Retraining under the instruction of Jacqueline Diels, OTR at University of Wisconsin, Madison. She continues consulting through her private practice in Phoenix with specializing in Concussion, Vestibular Disorders and Facial Nerve Paralysis. She enjoys hiking, cooking, Flamenco, Zumba, anything outdoors, traveling and meeting people of other cultures. Only this opportunity to join such an outstanding faculty in serving the wonderful students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy at West Coast University could nudge her away from the Valley of the Sun!

Education
BS, Northern Arizona University, 1994
DPT, Creighton University, 1997

Dawn James, PT, DPT, PCSAssistant Professor, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 284-2723
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: djames@westcoastuniversity.edu 

Biography
Dr. James is an assistant professor in the West Coast Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. She comes to West Coast with over 20 years of clinical practice.

Dr. James’ primary research areas of interest include pediatric concussion management, school based practice patterns, dosage of pediatric physical therapy, and sports related injuries in youth athletes.  Dr. James was a reviewer for Guidelines for Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy in California Public Schools, 2nd Edition (2012) and co-authored Dosage Considerations: Recommending School-Based Physical Therapy Intervention Under IDEA for the APTA’s Section on Pediatrics. 

Before joining West Coast, Dr. James was a school-based physical therapist specializing in transdisciplinary preschool team assessments. She continues to be involved in clinical practice and works with the early intervention, school based, and youth sports populations. 

Dr. James is currently a member of the APTA Section on Pediatrics Practice Committee and is serving on the Subcommittee on Intensity for the School-Based Special Interest Group.  She is a founding member of the CPTA’s Pediatric SIG and it’s resource for school based practice issues. In addition, she is an expert consultant for the Physical Therapy Board of California.  Dr. James has presented at the local, state and national level on a variety of pediatric subjects including concussions in youth sports, school-based assessment and practice, ethics in pediatric physical therapy, and standardized testing.

Dr. James received her professional education and Bachelor of Science degree from Rockhurst College and her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from AT Still University.  She is a pediatric clinical specialist certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists and holds a Certification in Assistive Technology Applications from the Center on Disabilities, California State University, Northridge.

Dr. James is active in a variety of community organizations including National Charity League, Special Olympics, and Ahead with Horses.

Education
DPT, AT Still University, 2011
BS(PT), Rockhurst College, 1992

Links
Publications

Michael Leal, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPTAssistant Professor, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 284-4534
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: mleal@westcoastuniversity.edu

Biography
Dr. Leal has taught in a variety of physical therapy educational settings including entry-level, post professional, orthopaedic residents and manual therapy fellows. His teaching and professional expertise has focused on orthopaedic musculoskeletal practice, clinical decision-making, medical screening and the incorporation of the pain sciences into therapist's current clinical reasoning process.

Dr. Leal brings 11 years of outpatient clinical experience to West Coast University and currently maintains his active practice within the Kaiser Permanente outpatient setting. In addition to his clinical experience, Dr. Leal's professional development has included board certification in orthopaedics and recognition as a Fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. He is an author / co-author of several book chapters dealing with mechanical neck pain as well as a monograph for the American Physical Therapy Association regarding the best evidence for the evaluation and treatment of the cervical spine.

Dr.Leal is a core faculty member in the Physical Therapy program at West Coast University and is responsible for their musculoskeletal and evidence-based curriculum. Dr. Leal's research interests include student's understanding of the neurophysiology of pain, the placebo effect and the identification of those potential responders, the applied pain sciences in regards to clinical reasoning, and the examination process for maladaptive pain presentations.

Education
DPT, Regis University, 2007
MPT, Mount Saint Mary's College, 2002
BA, California State University Long Beach, 2000

Links
Publications
LinkedIn Profile

Jessica Rancour, PT, DPT, Cert MDTDirector of Clinical Education
Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 454-5062
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: jRancour@westcoastuniversity.edu

Biography
Dr. Jessica Rancour has practiced full time as Physical Therapist since 2006. Her background is in orthopedic and sports rehabilitation. She also has a special interest in spine rehabilitation and is certified in Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy by the McKenzie Institute. Dr. Rancour got her start in academia as a Clinical Lab Instructor for Cleveland State University's Doctor of Physical Therapy program in 2014. Prior to that time she worked with Cleveland State University Doctor of Physical Therapy students from 2010-2014 at The Free Clinic, providing physical therapy services to the uninsured. She was also on the faculty of Cleveland Clinic's Orthopaedic Residency program since 2014. Dr. Rancour has served as a manuscript reviewer for the International Journal of Sports Medicine and has published articles in Sports Health and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. She has also performed presentations at the local, state, and national levels.  Dr. Rancour received her B.S. in Applied Health Sciences at Bowling Green State University. She then received her M.S. in Physical Therapy from the Medical College of Ohio. Finally she received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Shenandoah University. She is also an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor and is the Director of Clinical Education.

Education
DPT, Shenandoah University
MS, Medical College, Ohio
BS, Bowling Green State University
MDT, Certified in Mechanical 

Natalie Weeks-O’Neal, PT, DPTAssistant Professor, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 473-5669
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: nweeks@westcoastuniversity.edu

Dr. Weeks-O’Neal graduated in 2006 with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California.  She moved to the Las Vegas area and practiced in Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation and Acute care. She began teaching as adjunct in 2009 at a local PTA program as well as with Touro University Nevada’s DPT program and the School of Physical Therapy at University of North Texas Health Science Center. She has taught Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Gender Related Issues in Health Care, Therapeutic Exercise, Geriatrics, and Therapeutic Interventions I courses. Her scholarly interests include minority health and wellness, Public Health, and Falls prevention.  She is pursuing her ASBPT specialty in Geriatrics for 2017.  Dr. Weeks-O’Neal is married with 2 children and enjoys coaching girls volleyball and participating as a dancer in Native American pow-wows.

Education
DPT, University of Southern California, 2006
BS, Kinesiology, CSU Long Beach, 2003
Biology, University of Idaho, Long Beach

 

Adjunct Faculty

Joshua R. Dusick, MDAdjunct Associate Professor, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 300-5155
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: jdusick@westcoastuniversity.edu

Dr. Dusick is an MD with a clinical and scholarly background in neurosurgery and the neurosciences. He has over 12 years of teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level, primarily in the education of doctor of physical therapy students. Prior to joining West Coast University, Dr. Dusick has taught DPT students elsewhere in pathology, neuropathology, neurological medical screening, neuropharmacology and medical diagnostics. Additionally, he has taught human anatomy, physiology, immunology and assorted other biological sciences courses to undergraduate pre-nursing and biology majors.

Dr. Dusick’s research emphasis has been in the area of neuroscience. He has published three dozen research articles in peer-reviewed biomedical journals and nine book chapters. His areas of research interest have primarily been human clinical research in three areas: traumatic brain injury (TBI), cerebrovascular disease, and pituitary tumor surgery. In particular, his research has explored the dysfunctional metabolism of the brain following TBI, surgical treatment of pituitary disorders, and treatment and preventative techniques to protect the brain from cerebrovascular disease-related injury including ischemic & hemorrhagic stroke.

In the Physical Therapy program at West Coast University, Dr. Dusick is responsible for much of the basic science and introductory medical education. He teaches neuroscience I & II, physiology, pathophysiology, research methods, and biostatistics. Along with Dr. Daniel Cipriani, Dr. Dusick is also helping to advance the scholarly agenda of the department’s core faculty.

Education
MD, University of California San Francisco, 2000
BA, University of California Berkeley, 1996

Links
Publications

Stan Hartgraves, PT, PhDAdjunct Professor, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 300-5155
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: shartgraves@westcoastuniversity.edu

Biography
Dr. Hartgraves has had a wide-ranging career in science and the field of physical therapy, which includes research, clinical practice, teaching, and academic administration. For the past 20 years, he has served in academic and administrative roles ranging from faculty to program director, associate dean, dean, and vice president of academic affairs.

He has held positions at universities in Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and now in California. Dr. Hartgraves' research interests include the neurophysiological bases of neurodegenerative diseases and treatment approaches, the pain sciences (including the impact of pharmacological agents on chronic and acute pain), and the behavioral profile of placebo responders.

Dr. Hartgraves has over 55 refereed publications (journal articles; book chapters; and abstracts at international and national conferences). He has a keen interest in bringing rehabilitation therapy to underserved areas of the world, most especially the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico (where he lives part of the year).

Education
PhD, University of Southern California, 1985
MS, University of Southern California, 1980
MSSM, University of Southern California, 1977
BSPT, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 1969
BS, Texas State University, 1968

Links
LinkedIn Profile

Joanna FaganProgram Assistant, Physical Therapy Program

Contact Information
Phone: (323) 300-5155
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: jFagan@westcoastuniversity.edu 

Biography
Joanna was born on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and later moved to Florida, where she grew up.  She’s travelled to China, New Zealand, Australia, India, and South Africa.  Before moving to California, she lived in Hawaii for several years working as an office assistant at Heald College in Honolulu.  Joanna is also a military veteran who served in the United States Air Force for four years as a vehicle operator/dispatcher and protocol specialist.   She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Central Florida as well as a Bachelors at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. 

Joanna’s aspiration is to become a military Research Psychologist; this involves using statistical and quantitative principles to conduct investigations that are utilized through programs and other implementations in the enhancement of military members’ performance and health.  As a Research Psychologist, she will be helping branches of the military to better understand their workforce and therefore develop, evaluate, and implement policies that support them.  Joanna plans to acquire a Masters in Social and Organizational Psychology and a subsequent PhD in the same area.

Education
BA, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2015
BA, University of Central Florida, 2003

Terrivio MerrittAdministrative Assistant, Physical Therapy

Contact Information
Phone: 323-454-5025
Office: Center for Graduate Studies
Email: tNevarezMerritt@westcoastuniversity.edu

Terrivio-Wesley D. Nevarez Merritt is a Jacksonville, Florida native whose life mission has been to serve. He has not only dedicated his life to improving the quality of healthcare, but has served in the Armed Forces as well. Terrivio spent 8 ½ years in the United States Navy Reserves with his favorite stops being Pearl Harbor, HI, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. He has always wanted to work in healthcare in some capacity so he focused on the growing needs of healthcare from a non-clinical aspect.

Terrivio obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida in Health Administration with honors. While a student he has been on the Dean’s list 3 times, awarded over $14,000 in Scholarships, was an officer of Student Government, a board member of HASA (Health Administration Student Association), and a student affiliate of the American College of Healthcare Executives. As a future healthcare leader of tomorrow, Terrivio plans on obtaining his Master’s degree in Health Administration to further the progression of quality healthcare and be an important entity for healthcare.

Education
BA, University of North Florida, 2016