Featured Fellow: Dr. Guillermo Cutrone PT, DSc, OCS, FAAOMPT

     Dr. Cutrone graduated with a physical therapy degree from University of Buenos Aires, in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1994) and completed his Doctor of Science in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, UT (2006). He received Board Certification in the area of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy from the American Physical Therapy Board of Clinical Specialties in 2006 with recertification in 2016. Dr. Cutrone completed his fellowship in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy with Evidence in Motion (2010) which propelled him upon his career path toward clinical research and mentoring physical therapists seeking specialization in orthopaedic manual physical therapy.

     Dr. Cutrone has shared his passion for the profession of physical therapy with English and Spanish speaking colleagues by actively participating in research meetings as a presenter in the United States and abroad. He has advocated internationally for orthopaedic manual physical therapy education by actively collaborating with the AAOMPT and the IFOMPT Americas Regional Group.

     Dr. Cutrone’s research has been in physical therapy treatment of the spine and, more recently, in physical therapy education. He received the John Medeiros Distinguished Author Award for the most impactful article published in JMMT (2010) and the Anthony D. Certo Award by the Indiana Chapter of the APTA for his professional achievements (2014).

     Currently, Dr. Cutrone serves as the Director of Student Affairs for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at South College in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is also a faculty member with Evidence in Motion for various residency programs as well as for fellowship in orthopaedic manual physical therapy. 

What inspired you to pursue fellowship training?

     My inspiration to pursue fellowship training came through the leadership of my former director. In 2008, Catherine Middleton, the head of the rehabilitation team at St. Vincent Health, asked me to explore opportunities to elevate the quality of our outpatient services. At that time, I was one of the two ABPTS certified clinicians, the only therapist on staff with a terminal doctorate and I was serving as the research coordinator for our department. She encouraged me to consider fellowship in orthopaedic manual physical therapy through Evidence in Motion (EIM). After meeting with one of the founders of EIM, I was immediately impressed by the use of an innovative blended learning model and the strong emphasis upon evidence-based practice in their programs. It became clear that partnership between St. Vincent Health and EIM could result in a paradigm shift in the quality of care that our clinical staff could offer our patients.

     The rest is history. When I left St. Vincent 8 years later, we had 14 OCS clinicians, 4 fellowship trained therapists and a number who completed a transitional DPT program. Additionally, the entire outpatient staff had completed a series of courses in the evidence-based management of patients with musculoskeletal disorders. These efforts were completed with very limited interruptions in patient care and, more importantly, with clearly enhanced quality in the outpatient services offered by the department as assessed through patient self-reported clinical outcome measures.

What fellowship program did you attend and why?

     In exploring how we might upgrade the skills of our clinical staff, we realized that sending me through fellowship initially could improve the overall efficiency of this process. Once my own fellowship training was complete, I was able to mentor additional fellows and residents in the required practice hours without them needing to take leave from their daily jobs.

     Evidence in Motion offered the flexibility of the blended learning format that allowed me to do this, but the program delivered much more than I ever expected. Beyond the recorded lectures, reading materials and onsite weekend intensives, fellowship provided opportunities to interact with and learn from world class professionals in our field during didactic and laboratory coursework as well as through the mentored clinical hours. Not only did the fellowship program allow me to work directly with numerous fellows of AAOMPT but it facilitated connections with colleagues in other similar organization internationally.

     The most fascinating aspect of this program was that opened my eyes to the end of the guru era of clinical reasoning and ushered in the humbling and wise consideration of evidence in guiding my clinical decision-making processes. Nothing was more representative of this learning experience than the biweekly Fellow Virtual Rounds which entailed presenting and discussing a case at a time with colleagues in an online format. Even years later, many of these fine colleagues continue to be my inspiration to never stop learning – then for the sake of the patients I treated in my community and currently for the sake of my DPT students at South College.

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

     The program utilized blended learning model with a combination of online, onsite and clinical learning environments. During online coursework, we explored theory on our own during the first half of each week while the second half was when we had to interact with our faculty and other fellows in training as students as well as with residents as teaching assistants. This weekly schedule allowed us to go through a remarkable amount of up-to-date information at a very deep level. Our studies went beyond reading journal articles into profound analysis which was deepened through discussion of the clinical implications of the material with peers and expert faculty members. We received extensive training in the Maitland concept, refined manual therapy skills during weekend intensive courses, and had our reasoning processes challenged through Fellow Virtual Rounds as previously described.

     The program also required completion of a scholarly project. For this element, I was able to take advantage of my prior connections with an excellent group of McKenzie trained clinicians and researchers that included Mr. Mark Werneke, an independent researcher in the area of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, and one of my dear mentors the late Dr. Dennis Hart, a well-published statistician and consultant with Focus on Therapeutic Outcomes (FOTO). This work culminated in publication of two articles in peer-reviewed journals.

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

     In addition to being trained in the Maitland concept during fellowship in OMPT, I received my certification in the McKenzie Method prior to starting my Doctor of Science Degree with Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (Provo, UT).

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

     Our profession has evolved tremendously in the last two decades with residency and fellowship training opportunities now more readily available than ever. With this increase in availability, the completion of formal post-professional training is transitioning into more of an expectation for professional development rather than simply being a good idea.

    Based on my own experience, I say without hesitation: “Be a lifelong learner.” The life of a professional clinician starts with the formative phase, followed by the informative phase and continues with the specialization phase. Residency and Fellowship training are organized and recognized ongoing paths to guide you to the pinnacle of clinical specialization our profession. Yet, when you ask any of us with these credentials, you will hear: “Oh, I am not even half way done.” The learning never stops.

    I recall in times past being questioned by some colleagues about my rationale for continuing to invest my time, energy and resources in professional development. Through reflecting on this, I have realized that – more than finding a specific goal to pursue such as residency or fellowship training – you should pick the path that fascinates you the most. Residency and fellowship can be that path, but you need to choose the program that makes the most sense for your personal and social circumstances while also remembering that your professional role is only one of the many you have in this world. If you ultimately do pursue residency and fellowship training, get ready for the phenomenal opportunities that you WILL BE OFFERED along the way!

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