After each served over 20 years in the Navy, physical therapists Dr. Michael Skurja, Jr., and Dr. Richard P. Nielsen transitioned their experience in executive leadership positions and clinical experts into clinical electrophysiology professional development courses. Following retirement from the Navy, courses were taught through their Institute of Clinical Electrophysiology (ICE). Additionally, both Skurja and Nielsen maintained their own successful electrophysiology practices (Skurja in California; Nielsen in Utah).
In 1988, both Skurja and Nielsen became two of the first five physical therapists in the United States to be awarded board certification as Electrophysiologic Clinical Specialists (ECS) from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. They developed the first annual Electroneuromyographic Symposium in 1990, which symposium is still running today.
In 1995, an idea emerged for developing a university and, in 1996, a third partner joined the team to assist in its development: Dr. Larry Hall, a noted professor at Brigham Young University. Together, the trio presented a proposal to the Utah State Board of Regents for ICE to offer a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program. The proposal was approved and led to DPT degree concentration tracks in the physical therapy specialties of clinical electrophysiology, cardiopulmonary, neurology, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopaedics, and sports.
In 1998, the name “Institute of Clinical Electrophysiology” was retired and Rocky Mountain University of Physical Therapy (RMUoPT) was registered with the State of Utah as a graduate degree-granting institution. Wasatch Educational was officially designated as the parent company for the University and any future sister organizations. Skurja became the president of Wasatch Educational; Nielsen became the president of RMUoPT.
At the recommendation of the American Physical Therapy Association towards reserving the DPT degree designator for entering physical therapists, the University converted degree programs to a Doctor of Science (DSc) designator. Additionally, the co-founders desired the highest level of accreditation for the emerging University and set the goal of obtaining regional accreditation through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU; then, Northwest Association on Schools and Colleges (NWASC).
As part of the regional accreditation process, the University was required to expand beyond single entity offerings. As an institution offering only graduate education for licensed physical therapists, the Founders explored new needs and opportunities in healthcare. In 2000, the name of the institution was changed to Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) and graduate programs were developed in the disciplines of occupational therapy, athletic training, and nursing. The University received regional accreditation on September 1, 2010.
Through a united vision towards improving healthcare through quality education, the Wasatch Educational founders have positively affected thousands of people through Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Currently, Wasatch Educational is pursuing additional opportunities to affect change in our own community – and around the world.