Featured Fellow: Dr. Bob Rowe PT, DPT, DMT, MHS, FAAOMPT

Dr. Bob Rowe is the Executive Director of Brooks Institute of Higher Learning (Brooks IHL) within the Brooks Health System located in Jacksonville, FL. His responsibilities includes directing the 6 PT residency, 1 OT Fellowship, and 1 OMPT Fellowship programs currently operating within Brooks.  As the Executive Director of the Brooks IHL he oversees the team that manages all CEU courses developed and/or implemented within Brooks, the Brooks Student Internship Program, and all professional development activities for all clinical staff within Brooks Rehabilitation.  

Dr. Rowe received his PT degree at LSUHSC in 1985 and completed his Master of Health Science in PT in 1994 at LSUHSC.  He completed an Orthopaedic Manual PT Fellowship through the Ola Grimsby Institute (OGI) in 1999 and in 2001 completed his Doctor of Manual Therapy (DMT) degree through the OGI.  In May 2007, Dr. Rowe completed his t-DPT through MGH IHP.  Dr. Rowe is a nationally recognized speaker in the areas of musculoskeletal patient management, advocacy, and professional issues/leadership.  

Dr. Rowe began a three year term in June 2015 as a Director on the APTA Board of Directors. He completed a 6 year term in 2015 as the President of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) and he continues to serve as the AAOMPT MO Delegate to IFOMPT.

Previously, Dr. Rowe served a four year term on the APTA American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) that began in July 2008 and continued to serve as a site reviewer for the Accreditation Services Committee (a subcomponent of the ABPTRFE) until June 2015. He served as the Chair of the Orthopaedic Section’s Practice Committee from 2004-2010. He served for 15 consecutive years as a Delegate to the APTA House of Delegates for the Louisiana Chapter (2001-2004), the Orthopaedic Section (2004-2010), and the Florida Chapter (2010-2015).  Dr. Rowe has served on the APTA Manipulation Task Force since 2001 and served on the APTA POPTS Task Force from 2004-2007. In 2009 Dr. Rowe completed 5 years of service as an appointed member to the APTA Advisory Panel on Practice and served as the Chair for the final year.  In 2013, he began service as a member of the APTA Awards Sub-committee for selection of the McMillan and Maley Lecture awards and completed that service in 2015.

Dr. Rowe is a recipient of the APTA Lucy Blair Distinguished Service, the AAOMPT Mennell Distinguished Service Award, the Dave Warner Distinguished Service Award (Louisiana Physical Therapy Association), and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Award for Excellence in Research, Education, Patient Care, and Community Outreach.

What inspired you to pursue fellowship training?

I had been out of school for 10 years and had just completed an MHS, which was an advanced degree in PT. I was averaging about 100 hours of CEU’s annually and I felt like I was spinning my wheels. I knew that there was so much more I could be doing with my patients and no matter how hard I tried, I was not attaining the skill I was seeking and knew that I needed if I wanted to provide the best care possible to the patients I was managing. This was back in the early 1990’s so there were a very small number (I think 8) of advanced postprofessional programs available at that time. I had taken some CEU courses through the OGI and I was so impressed with the content, delivery, expertise, etc and I spent many hours investigating how I could get the opportunity to enter their residency program (side note – the OMPT programs that today we call fellowships were all called residencies back then). Finally in 1995, I had the opportunity to enter the program and it was an epiphany for me that led to a complete paradigm shift in how I viewed the world of patient management, professional development, advocacy, teaching/mentoring and quite frankly it changed everything that had to do with physical therapy from my perspective. This was my enlightenment and what has led me to be such a zealot and advocate for this level of educational training.

What fellowship program did you attend and why? 

I attended the Ola Grimsby Institute (OGI) program. It was a 4 year part time program. The first two years were the equivalent of what we would call a residency and the 3rd and 4th years were fellowship level education (based on todays nomenclature and standards). I had attended several of the OGI CEU courses and they really “felt good”! I loved the inclusion of basic sciences, evidence, and clinical reasoning that were the cornerstones for their programs.

What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc.)?

The leader of the OGI is Ola Grimsby who is Norwegian, so the program was somewhat “Nordic” based. Having said that Ola presented a very eclectic approach by utilizing the evidence as compared to a specific cookie cutter approach. It was heavily weighted in basic sciences and therapeutic exercise. I loved how the program brought in information from many different backgrounds including neurophysiology/neuroanatomy, biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, exercise science/testing, work physiology, occupational health, etc that were all seamlessly integrated into the patient management. The information was always introduced based on the current evidence as well as sound clinical reasoning. I loved the fact that even though it was an OMPT program there was very heavy emphasis placed on the specificity of exercise dosing, which is clearly the best way to modify tissues and promote healthy movement. Retrospectively the OGI was promoting movement specialists many years prior to that being a professional emphasis.

Are you trained in any specific areas of manual therapy (e.g., Maitland, McKenzie, etc.)? If so, why did you choose that area?

Again, my OMPT education was fairly eclectic and we learned to use the evidence and clinical reasoning to find a solution that included many different approaches for different patient conditions. Therefore we were not locked into any one approach and had the ability to utilize whatever technique and/or approach fit the situation, but it always had to be based on evidence and clinical reasoning.

What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?

To be honest if there is anyone left on the planet that hasn’t heard me say this, they must be living under a rock! My perspective is that residency (followed by fellowship for the appropriate specialty areas of practice) should be the normal continuum of educational training for all PT’s prior to entering the workplace and hanging up a shingle. I have been involved in residency/fellowship education for over 20 years and I see the difference in the level of care provided by individuals who have had this educational training versus those who haven’t and it is night and day. I ask students how many of them wanted to be the most average PT ever and they all laugh. Graduating and not moving into a residency program leads to average level care, so if you are ok being average then no need for residency. Again, based on my own professional experience as well as my observation of thousands of PT’s over my career, my belief is that it is extremely challenging to attain the level of knowledge, skills, and clinical reasoning that a PT needs to provide high level care near the ceiling of our scope, without residency education. There is far more complexity to this issue than I can write and share in this forum, so I encourage those who are not believers in the residency movement to listen to some of my podcasts I performed with EIM, HET, and Manual Therapy Blog.


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