• A clinical residency program in physical therapy is a postprofessional planned learning experience in a focused area of clinical practice. Similar to the medical model, a clinical residency program is a structured educational experience (both didactic and clinical) for physical therapists following entry-level education and licensure that is designed to significantly advance the physical therapist's knowledge, skills, and attributes in a specific area of clinical practice (i.e. Cardiovascular/Pulmonary, Orthopedics, Sports, Pediatrics, etc). It combines opportunities for ongoing clinical mentoring, with a theoretical basis for advanced practice and scientific inquiry based on a Description of Specialty Practice (see definition below) or valid analysis of practice for that specific area of clinical practice. When board certification exists through ABPTS for that specialty, the residency training prepares the physical therapist to pass the certification examination following graduation.


    If the curriculum of the residency program is in an area or a portion of an area where American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) specialist certification exists, the curriculum must reflect the entire spectrum of the current ABPTS Descriptions of Specialty Practice (DSP). If the curriculum of the residency or fellowship program is not in an area where ABPTS specialist certification exists, the curriculum must reflect the use of an analysis of practice using validated process. The validated analysis of practice must be approved by ABPTRFE prior to establishing the Program curriculum. See the definition for "Analysis of Practice" in ABPTRFE Accreditation Handbook for requirements related to conducting an analysis of practice for the purpose of developing a new residency or fellowship practice area. Please note that ABPTRFE approval of an analysis of practice and residency program is not formal recognition of a specialty area as defined by APTA. In addition, ABPTRFE recognition does not guarantee recognition by ABPTS and ABPTS retains its authority to require additional work and documentation should a petition to establish a specialty area be filed with ABPTS.

    Sport Physical Therapy Residency Programs

    Sport physical therapy residency programs must meet the following additional requirements:

    • A minimum of 1500 hours of clinical practice in a variety of settings that allow for at least 40% sports physical therapy caseload
    • A minimum of 200 hours of sports physical therapy coverage at athletic venues.
  • Last Updated: 6/19/2014
    Contact: resfel@apta.org