• The fellowship experience combines opportunities for ongoing mentoring and formal and informal feedback to the physical therapist fellow-in-training, including required written and live patient practical examinations, with a foundation in scientific inquiry, evidence-based practice, and course work designed to provide a theoretical basis for advanced practice. Each program is based on a well-defined, systematic process for establishing content validity of the curriculum that describes practice in a defined area. Fellowships should have a curriculum based in one or more subspecialty areas. In subspecialty areas where validated competencies have been identified, the curriculum should be based on those competencies. In addition, the curriculum should be consistent with the most current version of APTA's Guide to Physical Therapist Practice.

    Subspecialized programs must include postprofessional education and training in the scientific principles underlying practice applications. The curriculum sets forth the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values needed to achieve the educational goals and objectives of the program.

    The program has the responsibility to include activities that promote the physical therapist fellow's-in-training continued integration of practice, research, and scholarly inquiry, consistent with the program's mission and philosophy. An evaluation component helps to ensure that the stated goals are being met by the physical therapist fellow-in-training through the curriculum plan.

    The program has a comprehensive curriculum that has been developed from, and is reflective of a validated analysis of practice, or comprehensive needs assessment (nonclinical programs only) and that incorporates concepts of professional behavior and ethics.

    The program's curriculum must cover the entire corresponding DASP, valid analysis of practice, or comprehensive needs assessment for that subspecialty. When a new DASP, valid analysis of practice, or comprehensive needs assessment is published in the program's content area, the program must report their plan for updating their curriculum to be consistent with the most current document in the annual report. Those changes must be complete by the time of reaccreditation.

    The program provides a systematic set of learning experiences that addresses the content (knowledge, skills, and behaviors) needed to attain the performance outcomes for the clinical residents or fellows-in-training.

    • All fellows-in-training must have a minimum of 100 hours of 1:1 mentoring and 50 hours of advanced didactic instruction within an area of subspecialty over the course of the program.

    The didactic instruction may include a variety of educational opportunities, including but not limited to, case review, didactic classroom instruction, chat room, problem solving sessions, clinical rounds, and other planned educational experiences.

    Residency vs. Fellowship

    A clinical residency program is designed to substantially advance a physical therapist's expertise in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, and management of patients in a defined area of clinical practice (specialty). This focus may also include non-clinical aspects of physical therapy including community service, patient education, research, and supervision of other health care providers (professional and technical). Often, the clinical residency experience prepares an individual to become a board-certified clinical specialist through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).  Applicants to a residency program are typically new graduates from their entry-level physical therapy degree.

    A fellowship program is designed to provide greater depth within a subspecialty area (beyond specialty) than that which is covered in a residency program. Therefore new gradutaes are not eligible for admission to a fellowship program.  Applicants of a clinical fellowship program must possess one or more of the following qualifications: 1) specialist certification, 2) completion of a residency in a specialty area, or 3) demonstrable clinical skills within a particular specialty area.

  • Last Updated: 9/15/2014
    Contact: resfel@apta.org