• A clinical fellowship program in physical therapy is a postprofessional planned learning experience in a focused advanced area of clinical practice. Similar to the medical model, a clinical fellowship is a structured educational experience (both didactic and clinical) for physical therapists which combines opportunities for ongoing clinical mentoring with a theoretical basis for advanced practice and scientific inquiry in a defined area of subspecialization beyond that of a defined specialty area of clinical practice. A fellowship candidate has either completed a residency program in a related specialty area, is a board-certified specialist in the related area of specialty, or has demonstrable clinical skills within a particular specialty area. Fellowship training is not appropriate for new physical therapy graduates.


    If the curriculum of the fellowship program is in a portion of an area where ABPTS specialist certification exists, the curriculum must reflect the current ABPTS Descriptions of Specialty Practice (DSP) and also extend beyond the DSP in its scope. That is, the program may establish the fellowship curriculum, including didactic content, competency expectations, and description of patients seen through one of the following two methods:

    1. A valid and reliable analysis of practice in the subspecialty area; or
    2. Expansion of applicable portions of a DSP providing a detailed description of the knowledge, competency expectations, and types of patients seen, including references where appropriate. Orthopedic manual physical therapy fellowships must follow the most recent version of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT's) Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Description of Advanced Specialist Practice (DASP).

    Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Programs

    Programs in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy (OMPT) must meet the following additional requirements:

    • A minimum total of 1,000 hours with at least 90% orthopedic case load that includes:
    • A minimum of 200 hours of theoretical/cognitive and scientific study in OMPT knowledge areas.
    • A minimum of 160 hours, including 100 hours spinal and 60 hours extremity, practical (lab) instruction in OMPT examination and treatment techniques.
    • A minimum of 440 hours of clinical practice with an OMPT instructor available
      • A minimum of 130 hours (of the 440 hours) of clinical practice must be under the direct 1:1 clinical mentoring of the instructor in which the fellow-in-training must serve as the primary clinician responsible for the patient/client’s care for 110 of these 130 hours. The remaining 20 hours of the 130 hours may be devoted to observation, discussion, and interaction with the mentor on patient/client management.  All mentoring must be provided by a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT).
      • A minimum of 40 hours (within the 440 hours) of interaction with the clinical instructors in non-patient care situations must be included in the curriculum. The focus of these hours should be related to clinical problem solving. Various methods may be employed including small group tutorials and “chat room” discussions between peers and clinical faculty, onsite or phone/web-based technology interaction.
  • Last Updated: 7/8/2014
    Contact: resfel@apta.org