Dr. Amy Pakula graduated from Pacific University in 2008 and completed her fellowship training through the Kaiser Permanente Northern California PT Fellowship program. Dr. Pakula works in the outpatient orthopedic setting at Momentum Physical Therapy in Bozeman, MT. She has taught continuing education courses to physical therapists in Peru through Health Volunteers Overseas. She has also been a presenter at national conferences and serves as a consultant to the Kaiser Permanente Northern California PT Fellowship program.
What made you decide to pursue fellowship training?
I grew up in rural eastern Washington where access to advanced healthcare was sometimes a challenge. I knew that I wanted to provide specialized high-level PT care in a rural region. Bob Nee, my orthopedics professor in PT school was the first one to introduce me to the concept of fellowship and residency programs. After meeting and working with several fellowship-trained PTs, I realized that pursuing this training would be the best way to achieve my goal of providing specialized, high-level care in an area with limited medical resources.
What fellowship program did you attend and why?
Kaiser Permanente Northern California Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship. After completing the Kaiser Northern California mentorship program (now called Fellowship I) directly after PT school I knew I wanted to learn more. The level of excellence in demonstrated by the faculty motivated me to continue to improve and return to get better. I was inspired by the facultys’ dedication to our learning, the fact that the each class is limited to a small number of FiT’s (5 in my class) and the reputation and rigor of the program itself.
What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc…)?
The Kaiser Northern California Fellowship is very comprehensive covering everything an orthopedic PT sees in the clinic. From differential diagnosis, pain science, and orthotics to manipulation. This was all taught within a Maitland based clinical reasoning framework and influenced by current best evidence. For me, one of the best parts of the program was the weekly in clinic mentoring with faculty. Nothing compares to having a master clinician with you in the treatment room for hours every week!
Are you trained in any specific areas of manual therapy (i.e. Maitland, McKenzie, etc…), if so, why did you choose that area?
As the Kaiser Northern California PT Fellowship is more Maitland based, I have the largest amount of experience in this area.
What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?
Start by defining exactly what you want to get out of a residency/fellowship program (i.e.,specific subspecialty, area of research, type of mentoring, etc.) and then start seeking out residency/fellowship graduates and ask them about the program(s) they attended! This is the best way to get unfiltered information and will help you start determining which programs may be better suited to your wants and needs.