Sept. 19, 2007
By Alison Wayner
Ohio University's School of Physical Therapy, the first program in Ohio to offer a doctorate in the field, now is working to establish one of the first orthopedic residency programs in the state.
Slated to start its first two residents in January and July 2008, the one-year program will require 1,900 hours on the job. Residents will spend 25 hours a week working in the University Therapy Associates clinic in Grover Center, including five with a mentor. Their remaining hours will be spent teaching and completing research and coursework designed to advance skills developed in graduate school.
"A residency helps to advance our entire program," Residency Program Director Chris Rettos said. "Programs that aren't offering residencies are going to end up behind considering the way the profession is moving. This is bringing Ohio University to the forefront."
The university's Graduate Education and Research Board Future Growth Fund provided startup funding. The next step is to obtain credentialing from the American Physical Therapy Association. A program qualifies for credentialing after one person has completed the program, necessary follow-up paperwork is complete and APTA conducts a site visit to evaluate whether a program is ready to be credentialed.
In 2003, Ohio University became the first institution in the state to offer the doctor of physical therapy degree. According to the APTA, there are just 16 credentialed orthopedic residency programs in the nation, none in Ohio.
Rettos expects the new program to host up to seven residents at a time within five years, with residency locations reaching beyond Athens. A plan to partner with the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine will allow the program to extend residency locations to the Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education sites affiliated with OU-COM.
The OU-COM partnership also will allow residents to spend time observing osteopathic manipulation techniques, which are similar to those performed by physical therapists. "When physical therapists spend time with a doctor or surgeon, they can actually observe what's happening to the patient and therefore are better able to develop an effective rehab program," Rettos said.
Averell Overby, director of the School of Physical Therapy, said the residency effort is aimed at helping physical therapists provide superior care.
"Some physical therapists who have been out of the field for a while or who are just entering the field don't have all of the experience necessary to provide the best care possible," she said. "A residency really helps to shorten the learning curve and hone an individual's skill set."
Overby said residency programs are good for the physical therapy profession, and she's pleased Ohio University is helping to lead the way. "I hope more programs like this one develop," she said. "It's what's best for the patients."