A native of Wisconsin, Ciara Burgi graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009 and earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Duke University in 2014. Ciara will be the 2017-2018 Sports Medicine Division I Athletics Fellow at Duke University. Ciara completed a sports residency at Houston Methodist Sugar Land in 2015, where she served as a faculty member for the sports, orthopedic, and athletic training residencies from 2015 to 2017. She is Board Certified in Sports and received her manual therapy fellowship training through Institute for Athlete Regeneration, where she currently serves as a lead instructor. Ciara has been published in the Journal of Athletic Training and the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science and is the Program Director for the Pro Bono Incubator program through the non-profit organization Move Together. Her interests include lower extremity rehabilitation, manual therapy, athletic performance, and global health.
What made you decide to pursue fellowship training?
I did a sports residency at Houston Methodist Sugar Land immediately after I graduated from PT school. I originally pursued residency training because I knew I wanted to be as good as possible at my job as quickly as possible. All of my main residency faculty members were FAAOMPTs and after only a few weeks working around them, I knew that was the right path for me. I admired their skills in advanced clinical reasoning, efficiency of treatment, and they just simply got patients better more quickly. After graduating PT school I had a manual therapy fellowship in the back of my mind – perhaps a 5-10 year goal – but my experience during residency made it jump to the front of my mind.
What fellowship program did you attend and why?
I completed the Institute for Athlete Regeneration fellowship. My ultimate goal is to work in higher-level athletics, so I wanted a fellowship that also helped me to understand and address the unique needs of athletes. In addition, I got to know the faculty prior to starting the program and absolutely loved them. Enjoying the people I’m going to be around is really important to me and I loved the faculty and knew I wanted to learn from them. So the faculty combined with the focus on athletes made IAR an easy decision for me.
What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc…)?
IAR is a part-time fellowship so approximately every fifth weekend we had class. Each class was comprised of a mix of lecture, lab instruction, practicing manual interventions, and exercise prescription. It was really beneficial to not only cover manual techniques and discuss differential diagnosis, but learn exercises that compliment our manual therapy techniques. We also had the opportunity to have injured athletes attend class so we got to assess and intervene on live patients as a class. I was fortunate enough to be hired as faculty where I did my sports residency so was able to be mentored by my incredible co-workers for my fellowship mentoring hours. The unique aspect of the IAR fellowship was the focus on athletics. We had the opportunity to learn about topics such as athletic performance, specialty athlete, sport-specific movement analysis, and higher level exercise prescription. These “extras” are what I was looking for in a program and will be invaluable as I move forward in my career.
Are you trained in any specific areas of manual therapy (i.e. Maitland, McKenzie, etc…), if so, why did you choose that area?
We learned a diverse range of techniques and theories throughout the fellowship. There was a focus on relating manual therapy and exercise interventions to Sahrmann’s Movement System Impairments (MSI). Athletes are excellent compensators so learning more about high-level movement analysis helped me to treat patients more effectively and efficiently. Although I enjoyed learning different theories and perspectives, my brain certainly thinks and treats based on MSIs.
What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?
Considering I did a residency, manual therapy fellowship, and am soon going to begin a fellowship in Division I athletics, obviously I’m a huge proponent of post-professional training. My advice is if you know you want do specialize in sports and/or orthopedics, do something. Post-professional training completely changed the trajectory of my career. Through residency and fellowship training, I became a better clinician in 2 years than I thought I would be after 5 years. My number one piece of advice is to invest your time being around people that you enjoy. Everyone that I have worked with has inspired and pushed me to be better.
So find a program that fits you, find people that fit you, and do some kind of post-professional training. Trust me, you won’t regret it!