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Prospective Resident Resources  

Prospective residency applicants often have a lot of questions about residency education. Use the responses to the Frequently Asked Questions below to help determine if residency education is a good fit for you! 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why should I pursue a residency program?
  • How do I choose a residency program?
    • There are a lot of residency programs out there! Refer to the ABPTRFE Accredited Programs Directory.  Reflect on the questions below as you review the program list and research different program offerings:
      • Is this an accredited program, approved for candidacy, or developing program? If accredited, how long has the program been established?
      • Where is this program located? 
      • What are the financial considerations for this program? Is there tuition? What is the salary or general full time equivalence of the position? What are associated cost of living/housing costs in this region?
      • What are the time demands of the program?  What is the total length of the program? What percent of time is allocated to clinical practice versus other learning opportunities, such as teaching or research?
      • What is the mentoring structure?
      • What is the rotation schedule? How much time is spent in each of the required practice settings?
      • Is the program associated with an academic/university partner?
      • What is the format of didactic instruction? In-person? On site? Online?
      • Are there unique opportunities this program offers that are not available at other programs? (consider faculty, curriculum, geography, etc.) 
  • What comprises the curriculum of a neurologic residency program?
    • The American Board of Physical Therapy Residency & Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) has published a curriculum guide, called the Description of Residency Practice, for neurologic residencies. This document outlines the specific learning objectives, practice settings, patient populations, and primary health conditions that residents must be exposed to and demonstrate competency in during their residency program.
  • How will I be evaluated in a residency program?
    • Each residency program has different tools to assess how residents are achieving the objectives. The essential core competencies by which all residents are evaluated include:
      • Knowledge for specialty practice
      • Clinical reasoning
      • Professionalism
      • Communication
      • Education
      • Systems Based Practice
      • Patient Management
    • A standardized tool for assessing residents called the “Physical Therapist Residency Competency Evaluation Instrument” is currently undergoing research testing for validation. 
 
  • How does residency training impact my future practice?
    • There is limited literature investigating the impact of residency training on patient care and career outcomes across specialties, including neurology. 
    • Most residency graduates suggest that residency training has helped to:
      • advance their clinical reasoning through access to clinical experts (mentors); 
      • increase familiarity with specialty-specific research and resources;
      • expand their network of resources across different aspects of the PT profession, including clinical, academic, research, and professional service
  • What activities help me to be a more competitive applicant for residency programs?
    • Each program has different qualifications they seek in a prospective resident. Each applicant brings unique experiences to the interview.  Most programs prefer exposure to neurologic clinical practice through clinical internship or volunteer work. Most programs look for well-rounded candidates that show strong academic performance, as well as leadership qualities and active participation in neurology-related activities outside of the classroom, such as advocacy events and participation in the APTA/Academy of Neurology as a student member.  
  • What if I am not able to attain any clinical internships with a focus in neurology?
    • Seek other opportunities for exposure to this specialty and patient population. 
    • Volunteer with local organizations, such as your local chapter of the MS Society or Parkinson’s Foundation, to gain experience interacting with individuals with neurologic disorders.
    • Join a Special Interest Group of the Academy of Neurology to explore more about different patient populations and specializations like assistive technology/seating and wheeled mobility.
    • Read articles and non-fiction accounts of patient experiences after neurologic injury. Watch documentaries that detail the patient experience after neurologic injury.
    • You might also consider postponing your residency application until you have attained some job experience with this patient population.

  • When should I start a residency program: as a new grad or with some clinical experience?
    • The timing of when to complete a residency program is a personal decision. You should take time to think through your professional vs. personal goals. When does participation in a rigorous post-professional program best fit in your life? 
    • One can expect a difference in the residency learning trajectory for those who complete a residency straight out of school versus someone with clinical experience.  A new graduate will start at a more novice level of practice. The relationship between resident/mentor is very different from the student/CI relationship and requires different expectations, including greater independence, autonomy, and self-directedness. A new graduate’s clinical questions and depth of mentoring discussions will likely be different from someone with more exposure to clinical practice and neurologic patient populations. 
    • There are pros and cons to applying for a program regardless of when you choose. Specifically for the new grad, consider:
      • Pros: demanding scheduling and balancing of residency/personal life will be familiar; less than full time residency salary is likely still more than PT school income; exposure to multiple practice settings that may not have been immersed in during internships; dedicated mentorship early in career
      • Cons: learning to become an independent PT while also a resident is a steep learning curve; limited clinical experience impacts the type of questions asked in mentoring; rotating between practice settings and mentors requires adaptability/flexibility
    • Read a perspective article by Kyle Stapleton, PT, DPT entitled: “How I Knew Residency Education was Right for Me: A New Grad’s Perspective”
       

 

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