American Physical Therapy Association
The APTA recognizes the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education as the agency for the accreditation of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship education programs. ABPTRFE is also a member of the Association of Specialized & Professional Accreditors. There are currently 325 Accredited Residency Programs and 43 Accredited Fellowship Programs.
In 2018, the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) announced on its website http://www.abptrfe.org/ForPrograms/Apply/ new quality standards for clinical Residency and Fellowship programs. The effective date of the new quality standards was January 1, 2018. Programs that were accredited at that time had until January 1, 2020, to comply with the new quality standards. According to the new APTA rules, 2019 was the last year that PTs could be accepted into and begin an APTA-accredited Fellowship program without first completing either an ABPTRFE accredited residency or an American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) written exam. This rule change affects all 43 APTA/ABPTRFE accredited fellowship programs.
The new standards were largely based on work done by ABPTRFE consultant Susan Chiaramonte. The standards were developed after a series of forums, calls for comments, and weekly updates that occurred during early 2017. During that time, Chiaramonte summarized the comments, offered clarifications, and identified areas for further review. The quality standards were then finalized by incorporating changes based on stakeholder feedback. The final quality standards for clinical Residency and Fellowship programs were unanimously adopted by ABPTRFE on June 21.
After completing a review of the 2016 ABPTRFE Accreditation Handbook Link , the updated 2017 Quality Standards document Link , and several current application forms of programs offering Residencies and Fellowships, CE For Therapy has identified 2 major changes that are contained in the new Quality Standards. For Residency programs, the old standards called for a minimum of 1500 program hours. With the new standards, this will be increased to a minimum of 1800 hours. The second change affects the Fellowship application process. The old/current standards required that the applicant must possess at least one 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.
The new standards for Fellowship application call for American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) Specialist Certification in the related area of specialty, or Completion of an ABPTRFE-accredited residency in a related specialty area. There is no mention of a 3rd option of prior professional experience or demonstrable clinical skills within a particular specialty area. This essentially makes having completed a Residency program or achievement of a Specialty Certification an admission requirement rather than a recommendation.
CE For Therapy has learned that recently many individuals within the International Federation of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (IFOMPT) felt that the current ABPTRFE Standards no longer meet the rigor that IFOMPT Standards recommend. This has led to the creation of The Foundation for Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy (FOMPT),
FOMT has been formed to implement philanthropic efforts to advance public and professional educationand to accredit post-graduate training programs in orthopedic manual physical therapy (OMPT). FOMT also supports and disseminates results of scientific and clinical research as these areas pertain to orthopedic manual physical therapy. The Foundation provides support and fiduciary oversight of the Accreditation Council on Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Education (ACOMPTE). The Accreditation Council on Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Education (ACOMPTE) is responsible for setting accreditation standards, policies and procedures. The Council is also responsible for making accreditation decisions for Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy programs. ACOMPTE follows the Standards developed by the International Federation of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (IFOMPT).
The admissions criteria for ACOMPTE do include the option of “Demonstrable clinical skills within a particular specialty area”. This may include, but not limited to, number of years of experience, which has enabled the individual to develop their clinical reasoning at an advanced level in the specialty area prior to entering the fellowship program. Only programs that select one of the ACOMPTE accreditation pathways (ACOMPTE & ABPTRFE dual accreditation OR ACOMPTE accreditation only) will be recognized by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) as an “AAOMPT Recognized Manual Therapy Fellowship Program.” According to the Foundation for Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy website, only graduates from these programs will receive the designation Fellow of AAOMPT. (FAAOMPT). Fellows in training that graduate from an ABPTRFE ONLY accredited program will not qualify for application to AAOMPT for conferral of the FAAOMPT credential.
APTA has called for a task force to investigate the ABPTRFE policies. We will update this article when we receive additional input. There are several providers listed on the Provider Directory who currently offer Fellowship and Residency programs. Link