Featured Fellow: Jessica Davis PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Jessica Davis, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT has been practicing orthopaedic physical therapy with an emphasis in manual therapy since graduating from Duquesne University. She received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Chatham University in 2008, became a Board-Certified Specialist in Orthopaedics in 2002, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists with Evidence in Motion in 2017.

Jessica is the co-owner of Perform Physio, LLC.  She is faculty with the Institute of Clinical Excellence where she is lead faculty for the Performing Arts Division and instructs in the cervical and lumbar courses.  She also works part time with Tri State Orthopedic Physical Therapy as a staff physical therapist in the Seven Fields office. She is currently an interim faculty with the Dance Department of Slippery Rock University teaching dance kinesiology as well as lab instructor for Duquesne University’s Physical Therapy department.  She has extensive orthopedic manual therapy experience and has provided outpatient orthopedic physical therapy for many years in southern California and Pittsburgh.

Jessica maintains various professional memberships, including the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists and the Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Association.  She is currently serving as an alternate delegate with the House of Delegates for the PPTA.

What inspired you to pursue fellowship training 

When I was a new graduate I moved from Pittsburgh to California.  I had the opportunity to work in a phenomenal setting at Fortanasce and Associates located in Arcadia, CA.  At that time, they had a residency program with USC. Several of the PT’s on staff were professors in the USC PT program.  When they first met me, I am not entirely certain if I really impressed anyone. My skill set was very basic. But, I had an intense drive to improve.  They took the time to bring me up to speed with constantly quizzing me on my clinical reasoning as well as correcting my faulty hands. No one in that clinic settled for average.  They all were out there working on pursuing excellence. I believe my first inclination to be a fellow happened at that stage in my career. Well, life happened and I got married and had children.  I moved back to Pittsburgh, PA and the dreams of becoming a fellow faded as I was attempting to balance work and family life. However, there was always that part of me that kept wanting to improve for my patients.  I was never and still am for that matter never satisfied with where I am clinically. I always felt that there was room for improvement.

When I was completing my transitional DPT at Chatham University one of my professors was Gail Deyle, PT, Dsc, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT.  I will never forget listening to his lectures and his clinical reasoning and thinking to myself, “I want think just like him someday.”  At the time in addition to working and completing my tDPT, I was the mother of a 2.5 year old as well as a newborn. I could not see a way that I could travel somewhere and complete my fellowship.  So, I kept it in the back of my mind as something I dreamed of pursuing.

The opportunity came when my employer provided a way to pursue fellowship online with Evidence in Motion.  I remember thinking to myself that I was too old and also was fearful of being capable to handling the workload.  But, that inner voice kept pushing me and I thought “don’t be afraid to fail.” I knew that this chance would not manifest again.  I had to jump on that train, even if I was not sure I felt ready. My drive to pursue fellowship was due to a strong desire to be the best that I could be for my patients.  I knew I had room to grow and I knew that fellowship would help me get closer to that goal.

The best part is that when I finally finished the fellowship I ran into Gail Deyle at the AAOMPT conference.  I could not wait to give him a hug and thank him for inspiring me!

Here is our picture at the conference.


What fellowship program did you attend and why?

I attended Evidence in Motion for fellowship.  The reason that I initially chose this fellowship was my employer offered a program with EIM.  It ended up being the best program for me as it enabled me to stay at home and balance work/family life.  EIM is incredibly strong in the clinical reasoning component of fellowship. The faculty is supreme and are changing our profession and taking it to another level.  They are progressive and that matched my personality and goals perfectly.

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

The first year of the fellowship at EIM involves completing the online management courses.  You travel for a weekend intensive associated with each course. You are tested on your manual skills at the weekend intensives by the lead fellow instructor.  The second year of fellowship involves taking orthopedic management framework and fellow virtual rounds. These two classes, although the most challenging, were the most influential courses that changed me as a clinician.  You discover all of your hidden internal biases that hinder the way that you practice. It was in these courses that I learned not to fear failure. I learned that failure was an opportunity to grow. There are specific projects outside of the course work that must be completed to graduate.  This includes a scholarly project and two community projects. You must pass a written exam and ultimately pass a full evaluation of two patients with two fellows in the room. If you do not have access to two fellows you can record a video of your examination with one fellow in the room and another remote fellow grades your case.  The amount of work can seem daunting if taken all in at once. However, the best advice given to the fellows was to consider it a marathon. You just keep going and going. When you get tired, don’t give up. Just keep going to the finish line.

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

I am not formally trained in any specific area of manual therapy.  I attended Joe Godges year long manual therapy program offered in CA.  I have taken all of the Mulligan Concept courses.

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

My advice is definitely pursue your dreams!  Never stop learning. Once you feel comfortable in the clinic, that is the time to be wary.  That is the time when you should look deep within and realize that there is always room for growth.  It is in challenging ourselves that we stay alive and thrive in the clinic. That drive to succeed spares us as clinicians from burnout.  Never shy away from effort. Never accept being average. Our patients need us now more than ever. It is our duty to pursue excellence in our field.  

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