Pictured : Recent Graduate John Barry, PT, DPT (left) and current resident Nina Gerardi, PT, DPT (right).
What makes your residency program unique compared to other programs?
Our residency program has a very robust clinical and educational component. The mentors and lecturing faculty are one in the same. The same people reviewing the didactic component are the same individuals that are in the clinic with you as well as mentoring you through the residency. We currently utilize a 3 module system: spine, lower extremity, and upper extremity. Each module is 16-17 weeks long. Each module has it’s own mentor or set of mentors. The resident is therefore, exposed to several different experts. It allows the resident to develop a relationship with mentors for an extended period of time. However, the change in mentors with a change in the module allows residents to gain new insights from a clinician that concentrates in that particular scope of practice.
The faculty are very knowledgeable in their respective area. They have authored several peer reviewed publications, text chapters, monograph publications. They have been invited to present at several conferences and have been accepted to present at peer reviewed conferences, nationally and internationally. These conferences have ranged from medical, scientific, to rehabilitation based. This is a faculty that have directly contributed to the body of rehabilitation literature through conference presentations, publications, and monographs. To be instructed by these individuals is unique because these experts in the field are mentoring the resident and showing them how to directly translate that knowledge into meaningful and practical clinical use. Therefore, there is a good mix of academic expertise along with a content knowledge and expertise amongst the faculty members.
What would you consider the strengths of your program to be?
The strength of the program is in the dedication that the faculty members have to education. That is not only within the practice but something that is embedded into our institution and our affiliates at Penn Medicine. Rehabilitation holds a very strong reputation within this medical community so much, that the faculty of the orthopedic physical therapy residency and residents provide the musculoskeletal examination instructions at Penn’s medical school. It’s great to be in a medical community where physical therapists are considered among the experts in musculoskeletal practice. What’s great about the residency, is that the faculty are the ones that are mentoring you as well so there is a smooth transition from the didactic content to clinical practice.
What makes focused learning within a residency worth pursuing?
The residency really seems to accelerate clinical growth. We have data to support that graduates from our residency are comparable in clinical performance to a clinician in our entity that has been practicing for 3-5 years. This data was presented as a platform for the education section at CSM in 2017. Aside from the data, the confidence and the manner that a residency graduate presents him or herself to patients and physicians seems to set resident graduates at a different level. We have seen this among graduates from other residencies that we have hired to our practice as well.
What advice would you give to students that are seriously interested in pursuing residency training?
The most important piece of advice would be to contact the programs you are interested in. We recommend emailing the program directors, faculty, and current residents. The information that is gained from doing that is really valuable. There may be some intimidation at first with sending an email and reaching out to program directors or faculty. However, faculty members in residencies are very interested in teaching and sharing information. Reaching out and contacting faculty is a really great way to learn if that residency is the right one for you. It also puts the potential candidate in a different light to individuals in the program if you contact them and ask for more information. It seems to make a big impression if you initiate some contact with them before the applying.
What additional opportunities do your residents pursue after completing their training?
Most of our residency graduates are in teaching roles through various academic institutes in the area. They also continue to participate in research and quality improvement projects throughout the health system in some manner. They also continue with other certificate programs and fellowships.
What do you look for in a quality candidate for your residency program?
We look for a residency candidate that is honest about why they want to participate in a residency. We have been working in academics and administration for a long time. Therefore, we can tell when a response is just a generic response that an applicant feels they should be saying. We are looking for a good fit. That includes candor and the confidence to risk answering with your true opinion and beliefs. One example is, “clinical practice guideline”. CPG seems to be the answer that many applicants go to as a safe interview response for various questions. The faculty performing the interviews know the clinical practice guidelines. So if you open that door, expect us to ask some questions about the clinical practice guidelines. If you have not used a clinical practice guideline in clinical practice, using that as a response might not be the best choice. Give honest answers and give us an opportunity to get to know you as an individual.