Orthopaedic Board Certification Physical Therapy

Eric Jorde, a colleague, and I were talking the other day about the rise of students that come to us for internships who are considering Residency Programs now.  When I graduated just 6 years ago, continuing on to a residency program after graduating was not a consideration at all!

With that said, both he, I and David Love (we work together), all challenged the Residency Program.  I am sure many of you readers did the exact same thing. What this means is that we took the OCS Examination without participating in a residency program.

The APTA highly advocates completing a residency program.  One benefit of the program is that upon completion, it allows the clinician to sit for the next ABPTS specialist exam (I am using OCS for this post but it also includes neurology, women’s health, pediatrics, sports, etc.).

I always strive to give my interns the “clinical education without the residency price” during their entry-level program so they do not have to participate in a residency program post-graduation (mainly for the clinical knowledge and beginning stages of clinical reasoning).  I really do think that the specialist exam can be challenged by all if they have a superior work ethic and self-motivation.

The question remains: with the growth in residency programs and push towards post-graduate education, in the future, will the APTA prohibit PTs from challenging the specialist exam in order to push students towards residency??



  1. Hi Harrison,

    I am also someone who took and passed the OCS exam without a residency. I believe that if you are motivated and study you will be able to pass on your own. However, everyone is different and I could see the appeal of a residency. It just wasn’t for me. Keep up the good work.

    1. Hey Josh, thanks for your response. I agree with you…doubtful I would have done it if I had to complete a residency…

  2. I agree! As a new grad, I don’t think I could bear having to do a residency after 7 straight years of school. I don’t want to have to commit myself to another program to have the right for sit for a specialty exam – I much prefer the freedom to take courses of my choosing to round out my abilities, and to use the guidance and experience of the clinicians I work with.

    1. Katy,
      Thanks for the comment! I agree with you and I would imagine most other PTs, other than ones who gain financial benefit from residencies.


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