Important Information: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Fall classes are scheduled to begin on September 9. Faculty, staff and students are at the center of our “OnCampus Plus” reopening plan. Click here to learn more. Read more here for up-to-date resources and communications about the coronavirus situation. For questions or to provide information that might be useful to the College, please email

Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - 4:00pm

Mercy is pleased to announce that Assistant Professor Kathryn Ryans, PT, DPT, has become a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Oncologic Physical Therapy. She is part of a select inaugural class for the oncologic specialization that consists of less than 70 physical therapists from around the country. The certification confirms Ryans expertise in the oncologic specialization and proves her desire to lead in the field, remain cutting-edge and educate others on how achieve the optimal quality of care for patients.

Ryans underwent a rigorous application process to obtain board certification. In order to be eligible to sit for the board exam, she had to complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of direct patient care, develop and submit a case study write up and once accepted, had to pass a national board examination. Ryans exceeded the requirements and was awarded the board certification in June of this year.

Ryans was introduced to the topic of oncologic physical therapy in 2000 as a practicing physical therapist assistant. From then on, she focused on gaining the knowledge necessary to educate others on best practices for rehabilitating cancer survivors. She has since gained her degree from Mercy in 2006 and helped shaped the greater oncologic specialization, standardizing oncologic clinical practice guidelines, systematic reviews on assessment and diagnostic tools and speaking nationally on the topic.

“This is a growing, diverse field that deserves more recognition. So many survivors really need a specialist,” said Ryans. “The board certification carries prestige and will take me to the next level in my career. Maybe more importantly, it could have implications for the specialization as a whole – it may shape the way providers and insurance companies interact with, view and validate oncologic physical therapy.”

Since starting as as an assistant professor at Mercy in 2008, Ryans has influenced the direction of the College’s already diverse physical therapy program by introducing the oncologic specialization into the curriculum. Her coursework encourages students to utilize critical thinking and problem-solving skills to achieve the best patient-centered outcomes in a clinical setting. With the board certification, she plans on evolving her teachings to include even more relevant information that will prepare students to treat the unique, multifaceted needs of cancer survivors.

“It’s exciting for us,” said Nannette Hyland, associate professor and director of Mercy’s physical therapy program. “Every therapist is going to eventually work for someone who has cancer, there’s no way around it. Having a faculty member that is a Board-Certified Specialist in this area ensure that Mercy College DPT graduates will be armed with the best evidence to treat individuals who have survived cancer.”

Ryans will be honored at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections meeting in February 2020. Her Mercy colleagues and physical therapy program alumni will be present to celebrate her accomplishment.

Kathy Ryans