Fellowship Corner: The Ohio State University Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship

Pictured: Current FiT, Zaki Afzal

The Ohio State University Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship is based on 4 pillars: Leadership, Clinical Reasoning, Teaching, and Manual/Exercise Skills. The program offers the fellow in-training a unique opportunity to be on-site with 3 OMPT fellows working side by side, leadership training, multiple teaching and presenting opportunities. The cornerstone of our program is the one-on-one mentoring we offer. The fellow-in-training and the mentoring fellow can pick patients who have a complex presentation. The mentors not only focus on clinical skills but also emphasize emotional intelligence skills with patient and staff interaction. Upon completion of the program it is expected the fellow-in-training become a leader in his/her clinic.

Answers to the following questions are provided by 2 previous fellows-in-training, the current fellow-in-training and both directors of the fellowship.

What makes your Fellowship program unique compared to other programs? 

– The Ohio State University OMPT Fellowship foundation is based on 4 pillars: Leadership,
Clinical Reasoning, Teaching and Manual/Exercise Therapy.

– The Orthopedic Manual Therapy Fellowship at Ohio State offers an immersive and intensive
learning experience in advanced orthopedics. The fellow is in direct contact and interaction with
both primary mentors on a daily basis. This consistent interaction allows for unscripted/organic
learning experiences to occur on a regular basis.

– The program seeks to develop leaders in the physical therapy profession, in both skill and
character. The curriculum, experiences developed, and the mentorship are all centered upon
the goal of developing a clinician who is prepared to be a leader in every sense of the word.

– The co-directors of the fellowship are also the primary mentors of the Fellow in Training. They
have over 20 years of experience, and you don’t have to travel to another clinic at another
institution to get mentored. There are 3 FAAOMPT’s located in the same clinic and are available
at any time.

– You get exposed to a network of PTs in Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland with unique niches
(military/VA experience, research, entrepreneurial, direct access PTs at job site).

– The OSU OMPT Fellowship organizes a “Fellows Weekend” for all FAAOMPT and Fit’s in Ohio
to help the fellow-in-training develop a network.

– The OSU OMPT Fellowship helps fund the fellow-in-training’s trip to the Annual AAOMPT

– The OSU OMPT Fellowship provides the fellow-in-training with mentorship from a PT PhD to
work on a research project related to clinical reasoning or manual therapy.

– The fellow-in-training is also encouraged to present at both our state PT conference and
AAOMPT annual conference.

– The fellow-in-training is also afforded teaching opportunities thru the OSU Sports Med
department at OSU DPT school and residency to teach on orthopedic topics. The FiT also is the
lead instructor for the weekly “Orthopedic Skills Lab” for all the residencies, fellowships, and

What would you consider the strengths of your program to be? 

– The 4 pillar approach: Leadership, Clinical Reasoning, Mentoring, Manual/Exercise Skills

– The direct interaction with the mentors on a daily basis. While valuable learning does occur in scheduled mentoring sessions, much learning can take place in conversations had within the clinic.

– The leadership specific aspect of the program focuses on personal development both on an individual and professional scale. After this training, the trainee will be equipped to answer the usually difficult questions like “who are you as a leader?” and “what do you bring to the table?” with ease and clarity.

– OSU is a large institution with a multitude of resources and opportunities in research, teaching, and specialty niches like endurance medicine, barbell medicine, or OH athletes.

– The fellow-in-training not only gets mentored in clinical skills but also mentored in emotional intelligence skills and strategies. You improve in your overall self awareness.

– The fellow-in-training is instructed on and mentored in public speaking and storytelling. This develops the overall confidence and ability to present on many different levels.

What makes focused learning within a fellowship worth pursuing? 

-Completing a fellowship is a catalyst for growth and development as a professional and clinician. It allows you to become highly skilled in an accelerated time frame. The rigors and demands of fellowship training force you to grow and develop in ways you might not otherwise

-Your clinical reasoning and orthopedic skills will be greatly enhanced therefore you will enjoy treating “complex” patients.

What advice would you give to students that are seriously interested in pursuing Fellowship training? 

The common misconception is that the OMPT fellowships will help you become a better “manual therapist”. The OMPT fellowship is basically a fellowship in advanced orthopedics. You will not only improve in your orthopedic skills but most important your clinical reasoning and self
reflection skills.

I recommend talking to the directors of the program and previous fellows in training. Also attending an AAOMPT conference in highly recommended.

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