The Joe Finnell Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes and honors University of Central Arkansas Physical Therapy program alumni for outstanding contributions and impact to the profession or community. This year, we have the distinct honor of recognizing 2 distinguished alumni, Nathaniel Grubbs and Lisa VanHoose.
Nat earned a BS in Physical Therapy from UCA in 1987. He went on to receive a Master of Health Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Indianapolis in 1992. Nat became ABPTS certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy in 1994 and recertified in 2004 and 2014. Since 1998, Nat has been the founder, owner, and full-time clinician at South Arkansas Rehabilitation in Monticello. Among his previously held positions was a full time faculty appointment in the UCA PT program from 1989 to 1995, and he has continued as an adjunct instructor and clinical partner for over 25 years. His focus on baseline neurocognitive testing for student-athletes in several communities in southeast Arkansas along with subsequent optimal concussion management has resulted in numerous scholarly platform presentations at the annual Optimize state physical therapy conference over the last six years. Nat’s reputation is a true professional & lifelong learner, a talented-engaging communicator & educator, and a dedicated servant to things bigger than himself that benefit the community. Nat was honored by the Arkansas chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association with the Outstanding Physical Therapist award in 2015 for outstanding clinical practice knowledge and skills and promotion of ongoing professional development, and was recognized again in 2021 with the Outstanding Clinical Instructor award for outstanding teaching/mentoring and promotion of professionalism in the clinical setting. Nat’s dedication to support the mission and goals of the UCA physical therapy program is outstanding. His ongoing contributions include teaching & instruction in multiple courses in the UCA DPT program, clinical training & mentorship for numerous UCA PT students at South Arkansas Rehab, participating in DPT admissions interviews each year at UCA, and establishing the Madeline Ann Grubbs memorial scholarship which is awarded annually to UCA DPT students. Suffice it to say, by some way, shape, or form, Nat Grubbs has had a positive impact on practically every physical therapy graduate student at UCA for over 30 years. Those who nominated Nat for our distinguished alumni award say this about him. “Nat is that rare individual who others want to associate with, learn from, and know. He is a man of great faith and the grace with which he has faced personal losses has endeared him to our community. He is involved in almost every aspect of the energy that happens in southeast Arkansas. He is an encouragement to people of ages, the support behind many local non-profits, and the person who everyone knows and treasures as a friend. We take for granted his mission to teach life and health lessons to every person he meets.”
Nat was presented the award on April 29, 2023 by Dr. Brian Odom, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and member of the Joe Finnell Distinguished Alumni Committee at the UCA Physical Therapy 50thCelebration Banquet. The award was part of the 50thAnniversary celebration in honor of the first graduating class of physical therapists in 1972 from the University of Central Arkansas.
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