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Richard P. Nielsen


Board of Trustees

Board Member

With over four decades as a healthcare provider, clinical preceptor and higher education administrator, Dr. Richard P. Nielsen served as the founding president and CEO of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMU) from its inception in 1998 until the end of 2022. He is also the founding president and CEO of the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine and retired from this position in 2021. His vision and leadership brought about the creation of both institutions.  

President Nielsen, a native of Spanish Fork, Utah, points to the wisdom and encouragement from his single mother he received while growing up. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science from Brigham Young University in pre-physical therapy and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah in physical therapy, a Master of Science in neural-kinesiology from the University of Washington, and a Doctor of Health Science from the University of St. Augustine with an emphasis in clinical electrophysiology. 

Nielsen served in the U.S. Army National Guard for over five years and the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps for over 20 years during the Viet Nam and Persian Gulf conflicts where he was trained and became Board certified in clinical electroneuromyography/electrophysiology. During his time in the Navy, he held several esteemed leadership positions as the Head of Rehabilitation Medicine clinics and in his last assignment as the chief physical therapist for the entire U.S. Navy (responsible for 47 rehabilitation medicine departments across the globe) where he was appointed by the Navy Surgeon General as the physical therapy consultant to U.S. Congress and the Senate, the Surgeon General, the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, and the White House. He received the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal during his service. He retired with the rank of Commander.  

Dr. Nielsen, along with his wife, Jodi, and eldest daughter, Kindee, founded two charitable foundations: Reach the Children and World of Difference (WOD) ( Since 2013, WOD has partnered with RMU to take graduate students to Kenya and Malawi to work in developing country hospitals and clinics and to provide clinical education to healthcare providers. Dr. Nielsen has summited the highest peak on the African continent (Mt. Kilimanjaro) eight times.   

In 2013, the Nielsens received the American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award for their service in Africa. Dr. Nielsen has received several recognitions in the medical community, including the 2015 Leader of the Year Award from the American Physical Therapy Association and, in 2019, Utah Business Magazine’s Healthcare Hero of the Year Award for healthcare education. He was recognized as Utah Valley Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2023 and was named the Pillar of the Valley for 2023 by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. He also received the Provo City Mayor’s Exceptional Example Award in 2023 and the 2023 Don Pederson Leadership Award by the Utah Academy of Physician Assistant’s.

“One of the many things that I appreciate about Rick is he really is a person who genuinely wants to make a difference. It’s not about him — he’s not looking for accolades. That’s an incredible gift in our journey,” Jodi Nielsen said.

Dr. Nielsen and Jodi are the parents of five children and have seven grandchildren. They reside in Salem, Utah.