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Graduate Students Get First-Hand Experience at Children’s Center PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Contact Van Arnold - 601.266.5568   

Kim Nelson and Nicci Kendrick, graduate students in the physical therapy program at University Medical Center (UMC), are quick to point out that there is no substitute for clinical experience.

And that is why both are excited to be serving an internship with the Children Center’s for Communication and Development at The University of Southern Mississippi. Nelson, of New Orleans, and Kendrick, of Sumrall, spend two days a week working with students at the Children’s Center. The eight-week internship is scheduled to run through the end of February.

Both chose pediatric physical therapy as a post-graduate focus without hesitation.

“When you work with kids, it’s a great opportunity to touch next the generation and make a difference in their lives,” said Nelson. “This is just a beautiful facility here and it’s obvious how much the children enjoy the therapy. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to interact with them on this level.”

“The truth is I’m learning so much by being here with the kids,” said Kendrick. “You really get to see all sides of pediatric physical therapy in this type of environment. That’s not something you can learn in a classroom.”

The Children’s Center, a United Way agency, opened its doors in 1974 and currently serves approximately 80 children from the South Mississippi area. The center provides an interdisciplinary team approach to the assessment and treatment of communicatively and developmentally delayed children (birth to 5 years).

Margaret Buttross-Brinegar, director of the Children’s Center, noted that the request by UMC for clinical placement of two graduate students in physical therapy underscores the uniqueness of the center’s mission.

“Being part of a university defines our dual mission to not only provide direct services to children and families but to take on the charge of training and educating future teachers and therapists through a model, demonstration school,” said Buttross-Brinegar. “There can be no better way to learn than with experienced specialists while gaining hands-on experience.”

Buttross-Brinegar also pointed out that a similar request for clinical placement had been made by the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

Nelson and Kendrick are scheduled to complete their physical therapy studies in May and both plan to seek careers in the pediatric realm.

“I needed some physical therapy while I was in high school and that really got me interested in pursuing a degree in it,” said Kendrick. “And after spending some time here I am even more excited about working with kids in the future. You can really see how much difference you make in their lives and the lives of their parents.”

For more information about the Children’s Center call 601.266.5222 or visit

University Medical Center physical therapy graduate students Nicci Kendrick, background, and Kim Nelson work with Mason Lightsey, 4, at the Children’s Center for Communication and Development at The University of Southern Mississippi. (Office of University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at

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