To promote opportunities for physical therapists looking to become educators in the physical therapy (PT) profession, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMU) is excited to announce its approved candidacy for a physical therapy faculty residency program by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residencies and Fellowships Education (ABPTRFE). The program provides education and mentorship to practicing physical therapists, preparing them to teach physical therapy to students, produce research, provide service, and function in the governance of higher education.
The program was designed by Joel Tenbrink, PT, PhD, ATC, Assistant Director of the RMU Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and Malissa Martin, EdD, ATC/L, Interim Provost, along with input from Hannah Stedge, MS, ATC, CKTP, a student in the RMU Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Science program.
“This residency is the first of its kind in the PT world,” Tenbrink said. “Academic residencies have only recently been approved by the ABPTRFE.” Residencies like these are filling a crucial need for the many programs that struggle to find experienced faculty for their departments. However, these programs are new as well as few and far between for individuals who do not live near an institution that offers academic residencies. RMU hopes to widen access to these residencies via its online platform.
Tenbrink, who currently oversees the residency program, explained, “Currently, there are only three other faculty residencies in the country. However, all three of these programs only host students onsite in their department. Ours is the first distance-based, online residency program, following the model of distance education that RMU has used for 25 years to deliver quality education. Through an online educational mode, RMU can offer the residency to faculty across the country.
“Our model of the faculty residency is a hosted residency model, “ Tenbrink continued. “A resident will be hired in any PT department in any institution, but the curriculum and residency is provided and directed by RMU.”
The program also incorporates initial PhD coursework, providing residents with a headstart should they choose to pursue a PhD. “We combine coursework from the Health Professions Education Certificate and various PhD courses to begin to develop the transition from clinician to academician,” Tenbrink said.
“At the end of the residency, the goal is to hire the person into a faculty role in any institution,” Tenbrink said. This provides a stable career option for residents who desire to begin instructing right away.
“We are currently in the candidacy phase,” Tenbrink said. “The first resident is currently completing the program as a resident within the DPT department at RMUoHP.”
Martin, who oversees RMU’s continuing education programs, is looking forward to applying the structure of this residency program to other healthcare educators. “We hope to design similar programs for other health professions in time,” she said.
Through the institution’s history of success in online instruction and educating healthcare professionals, RMU is ready to help current and future healthcare providers bring their experience to the classroom to impact future students.