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West Virginia University's Department of Pediatrics

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MORGANTOWN, WV -

Dr. Larry Rhodes, interim chairman of West Virginia University's Department of Pediatrics and director of the WVU Institute for Community and Rural Health, has been selected the 2013 Rural Health Practitioner of the Year.

The award, made by the National Rural Health Association, recognizes a direct service provider for leadership in bringing health services to rural populations. 

The Practitioner Award is meant to be inclusive of all health disciplines. Factors taken into consideration include providing outstanding care, involvement in the community and lasting contributions to the healthcare system.

A native West Virginian, Rhodes received his medical degree from the WVU School of Medicine. He completed residency training in pediatrics at WVU and fellowship training in pediatric cardiology and pediatric electrophysiology at Boston Children's Hospital. 

Before returning to WVU, he spent 10 years working at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He is now chief of the WVU Section of Pediatric Cardiology.

He volunteers at outreach clinics serving rural West Virginia. He founded and volunteers each summer at Camp Mountain Heart, the week-long adventure where his patients and other children with heart problems participate in fun activities under close medical supervision. 

In 2012, the WVU Institute for Community and Rural Health, which is under his leadership, enabled 400 students to complete 2,700 weeks of rural health training. To date, it has also provided $475,000 in scholarships to WVU dental and medical students in exchange for a commitment to practice in a rural West Virginia community in areas where healthcare professionals are needed the most.

April Vestal, associate director of the Institute for Community and Rural Health, nominated Rhodes for the award. 

NRHA is a nonprofit organization working to improve the health and well-being of rural Americans and providing leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education and research. 

In other news at WVU, Valerie Wayda has been recognized for her work by the North American Society of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals.

Wayda, chairwoman of WVU's department of Coaching and Teaching Studies in WVU's College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, accepted the group's 2013 Fellow Award at its annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C., last month.

Before assuming responsibilities at WVU she taught at the University of Central Arkansas, Ball State University and the University of Virginia. She earned her doctorate in sport studies from WVU.

She has served in various leadership roles within the Midwest district AHPERD and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.