Dhinu Jayaseelan graduated with his DPT from The George Washington University in 2010. He became a board certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) in 2013 after completing the Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy Series, a didactic component of the Virginia Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy Institute (VOMPTI) orthopedic residency. He pursued a full-time year long fellowship in Chicago, IL through the University of Illinois at Chicago, and achieved full fellow status in 2014. He is now a faculty member in the GWU DPT program and maintains clinical practice as a senior therapist at the GWU Hospital Outpatient Rehab Center. He also serves as a faculty member with VOMPTI. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles related to his primary research interests of the utilization of manual therapy and conservative management of tendinopathy. He also serves as a content reviewer for a number of orthopedic, sports, and manual therapy journals. Outside of work he enjoys spending as much time as possible with his wife Trish (another PT) and their two little boys Luke (2 years) and Mark (6 months).
What made you decide to pursue fellowship training?
I have been lucky enough to have a number of mentors throughout my education and career. When I was in school I did a clinical at UVA-Healthsouth Sports Medicine with Eric Magrum, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT – the director of the VOMPTI orthopedic residency. It was the first time I was exposed to post-professional education. I was in awe of Eric’s ability to effectively treat the most complex patients and mentor residents making challenging concepts appear simple. While I was there, I was also able to work closely with the late Jim Beazell, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, ATC who is the best physical therapist I’ve ever known. One day Jim told me:
“if you don’t learn something new every day, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re doing a disservice to your patients”.
Those words and the examples that Eric and Jim have been to me led me to pursue fellowship training, so I could be better for my patients and students.
What fellowship program did you attend and why?
I attended UIC, a full-time year long on site program, for a number of reasons. As a learner I personally do best when completely engrossed in what I’m doing. I do not learn as well through distance learning or hybrid models. Carol Courtney and the faculty at UIC were the main reason why I chose the program. Their expertise and integration of pain science and clinical reasoning in our education was extremely beneficial. Another reason I chose UIC’s onsite training is the constant access to mentors in the clinic, and the ample opportunities to practice hands-on skills with the faculty and other fellows-in-training. It also didn’t hurt that Chicago is an amazing city.
What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc…)?
Considering the full-time nature of the program, it was a fairly rigorous year. Like other programs, we maintained clinical practice, had structured and informal mentoring, and had didactic education. Didactic education entailed weekly lab based classes, clinical reasoning courses, and special lectures. Additionally, we had built in practice weekly with our mentors and other fellows, taught in the orthopedic classes in the DPT program, participated in radiology and ortho rounds, and published research. There was not much down time.
Are you trained in any specific areas of manual therapy (i.e. Maitland, McKenzie, etc…), if so, why did you choose that area?
The program primarily utilizes an Australian approach to patient evaluation and treatment. Having a specific approach enhances the systematic nature of our patient care, but we were also reminded to utilize available evidence, our own experience, and patient values to make the most appropriate clinical decisions.
In my opinion, there’s a lot of ways to solve problems, but having a systematic approach and being consistent with that approach (whether it’s Maitland, McKenzie, Sahrmann, etc, etc) is what can enhance effectiveness.
I do not believe one is better than another – in fact utilizing components of each in specific cases may improve outcomes, but the Australian approach matches well with how my brain works.
What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?
No matter how good you get, you do not and will not know everything.
Post-professional education from residency and/or fellowship can be a powerful tool in enhancing your knowledge base, skill set, clinical reasoning, and meta-cognition. Your ability to self-reflect on your performance will greatly enhance the quality of your care, and residency and fellowship training can promote this. However, it is a great deal of work, and not for everyone. If you do not have a passion for a specific practice area, don’t force it – take time practicing and find out if it’s worth pursuing further. Also, ask questions. Talk to residency and fellowship directors and graduates before you make any decisions. Most of us did not pursue advanced training just to practice independently, but to enhance the profession. We’re happy to chat.