Residency Corner: Memorial Hermann Orthopedic and Sports Residency Program

What makes your residency program unique compared to other programs?

The Memorial Hermann Orthopedic Residency is unique because it offers a network of individuals who are truly invested in your success throughout the program and in your career. Many programs market themselves as possessing this ideal, but when it comes to the day to day, people are busy and the ball gets dropped. MH does not drop the ball. Every person involved in this residency program goes above and beyond to ensure you receive exceptional mentoring, physician collaboration, research time, and most importantly, daily support. MH very much exemplifies the team approach to cultivating residency-trained physical therapists. 

   -Alexa Lewis, Orthopedic Resident


The Memorial Hermann Sports Residency is unique due to the staff’s collaborative approach and allowing the residents to help drive the curriculum. From the top down, the staff works as a team to provide a catered experience for each resident based on his or her goals and needs. The resident has access to a big company filled with clinicians who have a multitude of backgrounds all eager to team up and mentor the resident to improve every day. Also, there is collaboration with other sports and orthopedic residents on a weekly basis providing an opportunity to present, teach and grow with each other. The program includes opportunities to team with physicians, surgeons, dietitians, strength coaches and athletic trainers during on field coverage and training room experience, allowing the resident access to numerous disciplines throughout the curriculum. The Memorial Hermann Sports Residency is a special and unique experience for each resident providing a springboard to be a leader in the field and equipping the resident with tools to continue learning while pushing the standard of physical therapy forward.


   -Jack Bott, Sports Resident


Diversity of Mentorship:

Although there are a large number of board certified clinicians and fellows within our residency faculty each of them were trained from varying fellowship programs such as the North American Institute of Manual Therapy, OPTIM Manual Therapy, and Manual Therapy Institute.  Our program believes in developing residents into critical thinkers and not clones of their mentors.



We have a director of research on staff at Memorial Hermann, therefore our residents get exposure and guided practice in research from development of a research question all the way to submission and presentation at a National Conference.  Although this is not required of an APTA accredited program, we believe that giving back to our profession through research is vital to physical therapy growing into a well-respected doctoring profession.



Due to the magnitude of the Memorial Hermann system, we have a large number of affiliations, resources and support to provide a wide variety of outside opportunities to our residents.  We take the time to find out what each of our residents career goals consist of so that we can give them the opportunities and networks they need to successfully accomplish their goals.  Although there is a structured curriculum that is required amongst all residents, there is time in the summer for residents to participate in outside opportunities that they are particularly interested in.


   -Nikki Shelton, Residency Director


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


The one on one mentorship and feedback are the top strengths of this residency. I am always forced to step outside my comfort zone when it comes to differential diagnosis and developing patient specific interventions. I enjoy being given the opportunity to make my argument and dialogue with my mentor while still feeling challenged at a higher level. I can honestly say I leave all my mentorship sessions with new perspectives and a clearer picture of what expert patient care looks like.

Physician Collaboration is no longer a daunting thought. I value having the opportunity to not only have one on one time with a physician/surgeon but also be invited to take part in patient care at a primary care level. This collaboration has given me an opportunity to dialogue with physicians about specific treatment approaches as well as form relationships that facilitate a continuum of care for my patients.

The research projects are one of the most important components of this residency. We as residents are actively involved in data collection, research design and data analysis and we are given many opportunities to present this information to physicians, PTs and other medical professionals. This research process has allowed us to develop presentation skills and at the same time educate clinicians on the importance of our topic and how it can impact patient care and outcomes.


   -Kim Stanford, Orthopedic Resident


    The Sports Medicine Residency at Memorial Hermann Ironman Institute is multifaceted yet concentrated experience in sports physical therapy.

    The schedule allows for a diverse weekly schedule including High School and Division 1 NCAA University training room and venue coverage as well as an individual caseload in the clinic. Both situations include one-on-one mentorship with patients on the residents’ caseload.

     Mentorship is also a strength of the program as many of Houston’s most credentialed orthopedic and sports physical therapists participate in the Residency Program. The mentors are often SCS, OCS, and Fellowship trained, bringing depth and experience to mentor sessions.

     Further sports experiences include covering various major sporting events in Houston, particularly in endurance sports including the Houston Marathon and Ironman. In addition there are often opportunities to travel with the University of Houston varsity teams to aid in treatment and recovery as they compete across the country.

    Research is a highlight; the residents complete, present, and ideally publish research. Residents are involved from the forming of the question to the collection of data under the direction of the Memorial Hermann Director of Research, Lane Bailey. The process of developing and publishing under this mentor and others in the system is an advantage of this particular residency.

    This residency also provides the flexibility to pursue personal objectives and interests while satisfying the prerequisites of becoming a Sports Certified Specialist. Each mentor brings their connections and expertise to influence and facilitate the residents’ individual goals.

   Finally, the leadership of the sports residency and Memorial Hermann as whole are intentional on developing leadership, conducting relevant research, and providing opportunities to teach and mentor while promoting personal growth and advanced practice.

   -Dorcas Copa, Sports Resident


The strength of a residency lies in the faculty.  All of our site coordinators are board certified as well as residency and/or fellowship trained.  Each site has at least 2-3 board certified mentors that are utilized to give diversity within mentorship.  In addition to being highly qualified mentors, they also possess a passion for this particular residency program and many of them were hired for that purpose.  The mentality across all of our mentors is to “develop their resident to be better than they are!”


   -Nikki Shelton, Residency Director

What makes focused learning within a residency worth pursuing?

   The focused education provided in a residency program significantly accelerates the process of becoming an expert clinician and a leader within the field of Physical Therapy. Residency promotes an increased awareness of individual gaps in knowledge and encourages constant self-reflection and assessment. Residency functions as the first step to becoming a more advanced and evidence based clinician. This program provides an opportunity to gain superior expertise and experience that would not otherwise be available. The structure of didactics strives to expand our working knowledge of each joint and builds upon the basic foundation provided in DPT school. The education received focuses on information regarding more thorough anatomy, advanced examination skills, and higher-level treatment techniques. This education promotes increased confidence regarding knowledge and skills as well as provides a new and more thorough lens to understand patients. Appreciation for minute details that may have previously been overlooked constantly grows in proportion to proficiency level. Residency encompasses an environment surrounded by clinicians who greatly value education, evidence based practice, and mentorship. These are the individuals who help to grow and strengthen the field of Physical Therapy and they constantly work to build better clinicians. These mentors are the ones that teach, question, and push residents beyond the zone of comfort. They are the ones who create exceptional clinicians and they are the ones that provide the education that makes the residency worth pursuing.


   -Shelby Williams, Sports Resident


After physical therapy school you leave with knowledge of various of tools to utilize in clinical practice.  Some are general and some are specific, but how and when to use these tools is fuzzy. The structured mentorship process not only adds to your evaluative, treatment and reasoning tools, but  it also offers you the assistance of experienced clinicians to help you develop your critical thinking. Determining how and when to use the tools in our tool box is what makes you more efficient and effective clinicians.


   -Nikki Shelton, Residency Director


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


The most important piece of advice I could offer to someone interested in pursuing residency training is to JUST DO IT! Choosing to take this path after graduation was the best decision I could have possibly made. It is important to consider what different residency programs have to offer- I would highly recommend spending time with a current resident during a work day to see how their lecture, mentorship and documentation hours are structured. This will give you a better idea of what your life will look like during one of the most challenging years of your life. I would also come into a residency visit/interview with questions prepared for faculty to help you decide if THEY are a good fit for YOU. Not only is this residency program choosing to invest 12+ months in you, you are also choosing to spend 12+ months of your life under their mentor/leadership to advance your career. 

   -Taylor Cole, Orthopedic Resident


When I first started considering a residency I reached out to programs and people that I knew that had completed a residency to have a better understanding of what they gained during their experience. This helped me better understand what I would be signing up for so to speak and what to expect after completing a residency. I would also recommend making a list of your dream job or where you would like to see yourself as a professional and decide if a residency would help you to accomplish your goals. For example, I knew that I wanted to have high school, college, and professional athletic exposure as a PT as well as exposure to teaching. Without a residency I might have been able to complete this goal on my own, but it was nice to walk into a situation where I could explore these opportunities and receive mentorship from professionals who already had experience in this area.


   -Macy Kimminau, Sports Resident


  1. Do your homework.  Research the varying residency programs to make sure the program has the ability to meet your career goals.
  2. Try to observe at the residency site of your interest.  This is the best way to get a since of the culture within the program and the importance of the residency program within the system that it is embedded.  
  3. Be sure you and your loved one’s have a good understanding of the time commitments, dedication and demands of a residency program prior to applying.  Unlike physical therapy school, a residency program requires active learning in order to make the experience worthwhile. The resident must take ownership of their mentorship, seek learning opportunities on a daily basis, reflect, give constructive feedback and learn how to perform at their highest level while being under a microscope.  


   -Nikki Shelton, Residency Director

What additional opportunities do your residents pursue after completing their training?


Our graduating residents have pursued a number of opportunities for residency. Below I have listed where our graduates are now!


Orthopedic Residents:

  • Three Fellows of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapy
  • One Fellow in Training
  • One PhD in training
  • One Director of Rehabilitation for the Miami Marlins
  • One Memorial Hermann Orthopedic Residency Coordinator
  • Four Memorial Hermann Site Coordinators and/or Residency Faculty
  • One UT Southwestern Residency Faculty


Sports Residents:

  • One Sports Residency Coordinator
  • One Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapy
  • Two Fellows in training
  • One Supervisor of Physical Therapy and Residency Faculty at Texas Children’s Hospital
  • Three Memorial Hermann Site coordinators
  • One Duke 2018-19 Sports Fellow
  • Four Memorial Hermann Employees

What do you look for in a quality candidate for your residency program?


Memorial Hermann Orthopedic Residency attracts driven and engaged learners that are invested in their professional development. Quality candidates will demonstrate they have sought out opportunities to enhance their knowledge of orthopedic physical therapy through clinical affiliations, mentorship and research. 

 The residency mentors and faculty are fellowship trained manual therapists, which is one significant benefit of the program. Residency candidates can be excited to grow their manual therapy skills. Strong leadership is also a trait that Memorial Hermann values, and candidates can look forward to expanding their leadership skills in order to advance the profession. 

   -Mara Hochmann, Orthopedic Resident


There are a number of qualities that we believe make residents extremely successful in our program.  

First, residents must be flexible.  Because residency programs are embedded in a clinical setting, residents must be able to effectively manage a change in schedule both didactically and clinically. Also, as opportunities for learning arise, we try to work them into the schedule in order to make the program as fruitful as possible.

Second, residents should possess intellectual curiosity.  Residents should be thinking of their patients as case studies.  They should be able to ask questions that may not have been answered yet in research and be willing to think critically in order to make decisions in clinical practice.

Lastly, residents need to have a reflective personality.  Residents will experience a number of mentorship experiences throughout their residency.  Their ability to reflect on these experiences and apply what they learn from each situation to other situations is vital to the growth of the resident.  

   -Nikki Shelton, Residency Director


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