Residency Corner: MGH Institute of Health Professions Orthopaedic Residency

The MGH Institute’s Clinical Residency in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy is designed for physical therapists wishing to advance their clinical skills in orthopaedics. This year-long residency combines clinical mentoring, academic courses, and opportunities for teaching, research, and community service. Upon completion, residents are prepared to sit for the APTA Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist Certification Examination.

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What makes your residency program unique compared to other programs?

I think one of the most unique aspects of this residency program is sense of community you feel as a resident. Since this program takes a large number of cohorts, especially compared with other programs that only take one or two, it has been so encouraging to know that I am not alone on this journey. Having 4 other classmates progressing along the same path, towards an advanced clinical degree, that I can confide in, discuss challenging clinical cases with, and study for exams with has made this experience so much more enjoyable. Several mentors in the program are also graduates of the residency program, instructors in the continuing education courses, and also instructors in the DPT program. Knowing that there are ways to continue to stay involved in this great community, especially after graduation, is another unique aspect of this program.

What would you consider the strengths of your program to be?

One of the primary strengths of this program is the mentorship opportunities with experienced, OCS clinicians across a variety of outpatient settings. This gives residents the opportunity to experience a variety of complex case management across a diverse population with expert guidance towards treating these patients. Additionally, there are multiple experiences within the residency curriculum to advance clinical and non-clinical practice. This includes the Elevating Practice in Orthopedic Physical Therapy continuing education course, research opportunities, teaching experience in the MGH IHP DPT program, and community service.

What makes focused learning within a residency worth pursuing?

There are many aspects of our residency program that have completely changed how I approach orthopedic patient care including the continuing education, mentorship, and challenges to our clinical reasoning process. The continuing education courses review the latest research so that we can specifically evaluate, classify, and treat our patients to help them get better more efficiently. The built-in mentor time and our clinical reasoning seminars consistently challenge us to develop our clinical reasoning. This focused learning has helped me become more efficient and more confident in my clinical practice. I can support my evaluation and treatments with the latest research and through sound clinical reasoning. One of the coolest comments I’ve heard about this program was hearing one of my co-residents, who worked for 5 years before entering the program, say that she is now able to get some of her patients better in half the number of visits she previously would have used, due what she learned in this program.

What advice would you give to students that are seriously interested in pursuing residency training?

My biggest piece of advice for those interested in pursuing a residency program is to be sure that going into a residency is right for you, and that the type of residency is right for you. There are different types of residency programs, including those that are solely clinically based, compared to those (like MGH Institute Clinical Residency) that are a combination of clinical and academic work. The goal of a residency program is to advance clinical practice by challenging your diagnostic capabilities and clinical reasoning process through the use of the most current, evidence-based research. It is a challenge and involves a significant time commitment to maximize the opportunity. Be sure that you are ready to take on this challenge. However, if you do then you will find a highly rewarding experience that will truly make you a better clinician in a short amount of time. Finally, be sure that you are open to receiving constructive criticism. You will be receiving constant feedback on ways to improve your practice. It is necessary to keep an open mind and be able to incorporate this feedback in a positive manner.

What additional opportunities do your residents pursue after completing their training?

Many residents have remained at the clinical site where they had their residency appointment and have gone on to serve as mentors in the residency and faculty in the coursework. Residents have also pursued fellowship training and accepted academic appointments.

What do you look for in a quality candidate for your residency program?

Candidates who have a growth mindset, welcome constructive feedback and are continually seeking learning opportunities excel in our program.

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