Residency Corner: USF Health School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences Orthopaedic Residency

Pictured: Current resident Dr. Michelle Maracle PT, DPT

The mission of the USF Health SPTRS Orthopaedic Residency program is to provide physical therapists with advanced didactic and clinical educational opportunities that will improve their ability to integrate scientific knowledge and clinical practice instruction, and facilitate development of advanced diagnostic, clinical decision-making, and hands-on clinical skills in orthopaedic physical therapy that fosters growth of professionals by a team of educators committed to clinical excellence.

The residency program begins in the Fall and runs for 13 consecutive months.  This allows the current residents to orient the incoming residents and transition patient care from one cohort to another. The residency in orthopaedic physical therapy provides advanced clinical training in the management of patients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions of the following regions: spine (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar/sacroiliac), craniomandibular, and extremities (shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, knee, ankle, foot). 

The expected outcome of the program is an advanced-practice clinician with knowledge and clinical reasoning skills advantageous for improved care, with optimum outcomes for individuals having neuromusculoskeletal dysfunctions and movement impairments that result in activity or participation restrictions. The curriculum of this residency is also designed to prepare physical therapists for the Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Specialty Certification Examination.

Thank you for your interest. For more information regarding the Orthopaedic Residency program, please e-mail To apply, please go to

What makes your residency program unique compared to other programs?

The USF Health School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency Program (USF Health SPT&RS) uniqueness comes from the mission of the SPT&RS and program, which has a strong focus on interprofessional collaboration as well as development of advanced diagnostics, clinical reasoning, and hands-on clinical skills.  This is accomplishment through mentorship with two clinical mentors throughout the program who are both very successful in their patient care, are excellent teachers, but are very different. Additionally, several different residency faculty members guide you through your didactic learning based on each of their specialties. These didactic educators are always there to help you if you stumble upon a difficult case at any time throughout your program. Nearly all of the clinicians you work with in the clinic are orthopaedic certified specialists and educators, so there is always someone there to help support you on your professional orthopedic journey.  Residents participate in Orthopaedic Grand Rounds and Weekly Rounds with Orthopedic Residents & Fellows as well as Sports Medicine Residents & Fellows.  The PT Center has a close working relationship with the orthopedic and sports medicine physicians further enhancing the interprofessional collaboration.  Another area of uniqueness is the inclusion of didactic knowledge acquisition in the areas of professionalism, ethics, and leadership. Finally, as noted below there are opportunities to teach in SPTRS DPT curriculum and develop a case report with intent to publish.

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

USF Health SPT&RS’s orthopaedic residency program’s strengths are:

  • Small cohort of residents allowing for individualized goal attainment based on the resident’s goals for their residency
  • Clinical mentors who guide you to enhance your practice. Clinical mentorship hours that exceed the minimum 150 hours and occur weekly
  • Didactic faculty who teach in their area of expertise throughout the curriculum. Self-directed learning, using the APTA Orthopaedic Section’s Residency Curriculum in addition to weekly seminars regarding the current evidence in each of the anatomic regions
  • Advanced knowledge acquisition in the areas of professionalism, ethics and value-based care, leadership, and motor control and motor learning.
  • The clinicians in the PT Center work very closely with the orthopedic physicians and allows ample opportunity for interprofessional approach to the care of a patient. Weekly Orthopedic and Grand Rounds facilitating interprofessional collaboration
  • Ability to attain Basic Clinical Instructor Credentialing
  • Participation in academic teaching of Doctor of Physical Therapy students within the SPTR&RS Professional Program
  • Bimonthly case presentations to clinical mentors and residency faculty
  • Development of a Case Report to add to the body of physical therapy knowledge with strong encouragement to disseminate via poster presentation or publication
  • Engagement in community service as a preceptor in the student-run pro bono BRIDGE Clinic twice a month.

What makes focused learning within a residency worth pursuing?

Focused learning is worth pursuing to instill the best evidence-based management approach for each patient. The mentors challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and think differently than you have ever thought before to come to the best solution for each individual patient.  In addition, residency education allows the resident to explore and analyze the evidence as it pertains to their areas of interest. The clinical mentors encourage the resident to seek out the available evidence and discuss the results as it pertains to clinical management.  Didactic faculty require the resident to analyze the available evidence in the different body regions, pain science, concussion management as well as professionalism, ethics, and leadership.

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

Be sure that you have the time and the drive to give your whole self to this process. It is a lot of work and will challenge you. Completing a residency will help you become a better clinician, and will motivate you to continue to learn throughout your career.  Consider the opportunity to learn “and professionally” throughout your career. Be an active learner who independently seeks out learning opportunities will help optimize experience

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

Our residency graduates pursue positions in out-patient orthopaedic practices, often specializing in either a specific population or region.  In addition, there our opportunities to continue with DPT teaching as associated faculty within the SPT&RS.  Many have presented posters at CSM and NEXT as well as inservices/lectures to community groups.  Finally, residency graduates have assumed leadership roles, e.g. Co-Regional Director, Special Olympics.

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

These are the qualities/characteristics we look for in a residency candidate/resident:

  • Adult Learner: someone who is willing to take the initiative, self-directed in their learning, in order to expand their knowledge, skills and abilities
  • Ability to self-reflect, accept and employ feedback, and develop a strategy/goals based on their self-reflection & feedback
  • Utilizes the evidence as appropriate and is able to assess the evidence
    • These 2 qualities, we will mentor the resident throughout the 13-month program, but would like there to be a foundation to build upon
  • Understanding of their current clinical reasoning process
    • We will assist through mentoring and didactic coursework to enhance and develop efficiencies in this area


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