The Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program (OPTR) at Touro College which was established in 2009 and received accreditation from ABPTRFE in 2013, is an 18 credit, part- time program which can be completed in either 1 or 2 years. This unique, university-based residency program utilizes a multi-site format for their clinical mentoring, and is designed for physical therapists who wish to remain at their present place of employment while pursuing a post-graduate specialization in orthopedics. The program offers a curriculum with rigorous clinical coursework, online mentoring and supervised clinical training in the art and science of orthopedic physical therapy practice. Through ongoing clinical supervision and mentoring in the classroom, at the resident’s work site, and at clinical facilities by physical therapists who excel in the field, the resident is prepared to become a board-certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) and take the next step in career advancement. Students are admitted twice a year, for Fall and Spring semester.
What makes the Touro College residency program unique compared to other programs?
The Touro College program (OPTR) is unique in many ways. As a University based program and not a clinical practice, the resident is able to work in his or her job of choice while attending our program. The organization of the program is such that mentorships as well as didactic classes are designed to afford the resident the opportunity to mentor and attend classes while working full time. The didactic courses are schedule as short term courses, held all day – 2 to 4 days, spread through the semester. The mentoring hours are also part-time and arranged on weekends, evenings and on the resident’s “vacation days”. The mentoring component includes on-line courses, 1:1 mentoring with orthopedic specialists at select clinical sites and mentoring sessions at the resident’s place of employment. Additionally, the program is observant of the Orthodox Jewish Sabbath and holidays.
The program is comprehensive and prepares students for the OCS exams. Instructors are knowledgeable and were available all times whether in person or through emails and phone. Touro has a unique combination of professional faculty, flexibility and affordability with a wonderful atmosphere to learn. Overall, it was a very productive experience for me and would highly recommend the program for anyone who wants to increase their didactic/clinical skills and sit for the OCS exam.
What would you consider the strengths of the Touro program to be?
Touro’s strength lies in its faculty; both clinical and didactic. Utilizing instructors that are nationally and international from all over the world, Touro is able to be on the forefront of current research as well as having world renowned instructors and a curriculum which stands out against its peer. Additionally, the program’s strength lies in its ability to prepare the resident for the OCS exam. As part of the program, the residents is given an OCS preparation course and take a practice test. To date, we have had 100% pass rate on the exam.
It is an ABPTRFE accredited program with 2 track choices – one or two years to complete, which is very unique. The program is affiliated with many clinics in New York which allow the students to work with mentors on a one on one basis to boost their clinical skills – their evaluation and treatment skills as well as clinical reasoning and decision making. Mentors also encouraged student residents to read recent evidence and present their summaries in clinical meetings. Other strengths include affordable tuition, flexible class times which work best for working clinicians who want to pursue the residency program while they are working.
What makes focused learning within a residency worth pursuing?
A residency provides an organized and tested path for advancing their clinical reasoning, and orthopedic knowledge, and skills. This focused learning allows the resident to immediately utilize the information he or she gathers in the classroom. It assures that the techniques learned are able to be practiced in the clinic, either with their mentor or at their place of employment.
Intensive clinical hours, availability of mentors, knowledgeable staff. Additionally, it adds to the basics from PT school with greater detail and hands on practice.
What advice would you give to students that are seriously interested in pursuing residency training?
Do your research! Decide which type of residency would work best for you and make sure that you are ready for the challenge.
Be confident and go for it. If you want to improve your clinical skills and reasoning or want to prepare for the OCS exam, this might be your opportunity. Remember that a good physical therapist is not enough nowadays considering the changes in healthcare around us. We must dig deep and work harder. As an employer I would hire a PT who had completed a residency first; I would be comfortable offering this PT more money for his/her higher level of expertise.
What do you look for in a quality candidate for your residency program?
We look for a candidate who is strong academically and shows passion for the field of Orthopedics. One who is willing to devote the time and effort to being the best Orthopedic Therapist he or she can, and has a clear vision for their future in the PT field. This may be a new graduate or it could also be a therapist who is working in the field of Orthopedics for many years.
I had the opportunity to sit for the OCS exam and cleared it. Used the skills I gained during the program to improve the quality of the service I provide. The program also opens doors for continuing education by stimulating students to learn more.