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Physical Therapists Take It to the Next Level

December 2011 | by Jane Kettering

For most, the word "residency" conjures up images of medical students gulping hot coffee, sleeping in unused hospital rooms-and honing their skills for a career as a physician or surgeon.

With a growing demand for highly trained, specialized health care professionals, other health science education programs and fields are realizing the value of residencies. The St. Ambrose Doctor of Physical Therapy Orthopaedic Clinical Residency Program is one of only 41 such residences in the country-and the only physical therapy residency program in the state of Iowa.

"When we started the residency program in 2006 we were credentialed for five years,' said Michael Puthoff, PhD, director of the DPT department.

"This fall we received news that it would be recredentialed for 10 years, the longest allowable time period, a tribute to the high caliber of the program."

Only Ambrose DPT graduates are allowed to apply for residency and only four are accepted each year. Because of the program's quality, the process of getting in has become very competitive.

"Approximately 10 percent of qualified applicants are accepted into the larger DPT program each year and in terms of the residency program, only one-third of our graduates who apply are accepted," he said. "These are very bright and motivated individuals."

The one-year program includes intensive, hands-on practice and instruction related to musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain, fractures and post-op recovery. A partnership with Rock Valley PT provides 30 hours of on-site clinical experience each week, allowing residents to work with some of the best specialists in the field.

Upon completion of their residency, graduates are allowed to sit for the orthopaedic specialty exam, waiving the standard requirement of three to five years of post-degree practice. Many of the program's 15 graduates have gone on to become clinic managers.

With the new state-of-the-art Center for Health Sciences Education, quality programming and talented faculty, it comes as no surprise that students graduating from both the DPT and residency programs are not only experiencing a 100 percent licensure pass rate, but 100 percent employment, as well.

"We're offering a great career, a great program and a great residency," said Puthoff.


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