Featured Fellow: Dr. Roy Film PT, MPT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Roy is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Medicine where he teaches orthopedics, OMPT, and pain content. His research interests are generally focused on figuring out how to help patients, clinicians, and institutions avoid surgery, opioids, and any sort of overmedicalization. He is now a full-time faculty member and has closed his private practice to begin work on orthopedic residency and OMPT fellowship programs at UMB. Roy is a highly active professionally and currently serves as an IFOMPT External Assessor, ABPTRFE Accreditation Services Committee member, AAOMPT Nominating Committee member, Specialty Academy of Content Experts item writer for the OCS exam, six-time Maryland Delegate to the APTA House of Delegates, and reviewer for several academic journals. He was the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the APTA of Maryland. Starting in 2006, Roy began teaching entry-level DPT students and has successfully mentored over a dozen Fellows. Roy’s students have awarded him with the Faculty of the Year award three times and the Adjunct Faculty of the Year award twice. His overarching professional goal is to elevate both the floor and the ceiling of the practice of physical therapy in Maryland.

What inspired you to pursue fellowship training?

This is going to sound bad, but the primary thing that inspired me to pursue fellowship training was the low quality of outpatient physical therapy in Maryland. I’m sure that sounds extremely critical, but I was amazed at the combination of poor clinical ability and extreme confidence displayed by many local PTs who called themselves manual therapists. Physicians in this area had a pretty poor impression of outpatient PT and it showed in their general lack of respect for what physical therapy can offer.

To better explain, I need to provide some background. When I first moved to the Baltimore-area, I had just left the inpatient neuro rehab setting. I realized I was several years behind as far as outpatient orthopedics was concerned and I recognized that I had a lot of catching up to do. I had very little confidence in my ability to help my new patient population and I wanted to be confident like many of the local private practitioners. I entered residency training in 2002 through the Manual Therapy Institute and learned so much very quickly. Seeing the improvement in my patients’ outcomes really built my confidence. Then I realized that many of the local private practitioners displayed great confidence but were not achieving great outcomes. I had spoken to so many patients and physicians who clearly did not have the same level of confidence in physical therapists. This ultimately spurred me on to dive into fellowship training head-first.

What fellowship program did you attend and why?

In 2005, I chose the Manual Therapy Institute primarily because they seemed to have the highest standards and a great track record of producing the most Fellows in the US. I had a great mentor, Dave Miers, at one of my company’s sites at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Although he was 4 hours from my house, he was the closest Fellow to Baltimore with whom I could train. It was well worth the travel and the cost. My boss wanted me to train our employees locally since geographical constraints were such an issue back then.

I don’t think most therapists today realize how difficult it was to pursue fellowship training even in the not-too-distant past. Fellows who came before me took leaves of absence from their jobs and traveled anywhere in the country where they could work unpaid to get mentorship from a Fellow. We flew Fellows out to our location and put them up in hotels for live patient exams. The access to FAAOMPTs was very limited. That’s a big reason I’ve mentored so many Fellows. I was only the second Fellow in Maryland we sorely needed more fellowship-trained therapists. We’ve got almost 20 FAAOMPTs now – hopefully beyond the critical mass that we need – and the quality of PT care in this region continues to improve.

What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc.)?

There was a strong emphasis on critical thinking, Medical Exercise Therapy, and even movement assessment – strange to have had in a program way back then. My technique training was very eclectic and I appreciated that very much. Most manual therapy groups back then espoused, without evidence, the superiority of their specific approach. Today, we know this to be completely indefensible. I’m very lucky to have had an eclectic approach to my training.

Are you trained in any specific areas of manual therapy (e.g., Maitland, McKenzie, etc.)? If so, why did you choose that area?

Before attending MTI, I took a few courses that were taught specifically from the Nordic approach. I took them primarily because I knew I needed better manual skills and these courses were accessible.

What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?

Do it for yourself, do it for your patients, do it for your profession. If you do it right, you can help change the world. And do it before you have too many expenses and other excuses not to do it. But only do it if you’re serious about it. It’s way too much work to enter into if you only care about putting some letters after your name.

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