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SLU-SSM Health Physical Therapy Residency

Together with SSM Health Physical Therapy, Saint Louis University offers a 12-month physical therapy orthopedic residency that allows you to participate in mentored patient care with expert clinicians in orthopedics settings.

The program allows licensed physical therapists to advance their orthopedics knowledge, skills and attributes, as described by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists’ Description of Specialty Practice. It involves both classroom learning and psychomotor instruction at Saint Louis University and SSM Health Physical Therapy in face-to-face, online and small group formats.

Graduates of the residency are prepared to sit for the Orthopedic Specialty Examination. Program highlights include:

  • Direct 1:1 clinical mentoring
  • Compensation (including benefits) for non-mentored hours of patient care
  • Participation as a lab instructor in SLU's entry-level physical therapy program
  • Small group classroom and manual skills instruction, facilitated discussion and journal club
  • Independent mentorship in specialty topics within the field of orthopedics
  • Opportunities for clinic rounding, surgery observation and grand rounds with physicians
  • Preparation for the OCS exam

Program Faculty


The curriculum for this program includes 1,200 hours of non-mentored patient care, for which you will be paid. It also consists of:

  • 190 hours of 1:1 clinical mentoring
  • 180-200 hours spent as a lab instructor or teacher in SLU's DPT program
  • 166 hours participating in didactic, small group and manual skills instruction
  • 50 hours of clinical observation (physician shadowing, surgery observation)
  • 40 hours of independent mentorship in specialty topics such as research, acute orthopedics, fracture care, amputee care, manual lymphatic drainage or industrial injuries
  • 30 hours providing pro bono services to the St. Louis community

Discussion Topics

  • Visual analysis of human movement
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Patient-centered interviewing
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Physical examination and manual treatment procedures**
  • Foot/ankle regions
  • Pain science
  • Spirituality
  • Thoughtful interviewing and clinical reasoning
  • Knee and lower leg regions
  • Hip and thigh regions
  • Lumbo-pelvic regions
  • Thoracic spine/ribs/chest regions
  • Cervical spine/TMJ regions
  • Shoulder/scapulothoracic regions
  • Elbow/wrist/hand regions

**Coursework is regionally based and will be taught through small group facilitation, journal club, psychomotor skills and lecture. All courses include mobilization/manipulation where appropriate.

Sample Weekly Schedule

Monday Entry level teaching Clinical practice with mentor
Tuesday Clinical practice (non-mentored) Physician shadowing
Wednesday Residency instruction Clinical practice (non-mentored)
Thursday Clinical Practice (non-mentored Clinical Practice (non-mentored)
Friday Clinical Practice with mentor Residency instruction

Residency instruction also takes place on select weekends.


ACLR Rehabilitation
Post-Surgical Meniscal Repair Rehabilitation
SLUCare Physical Therapy Protocols

Scholarly Products

Judice, G. Sebelski, C. A review of pitching kinematics at the moment of foot contact in youth baseball: 2007-2017. Accepted forCSM 2018 in New Orleans, LA as a poster presentation.

Kays, A. Sebelski, C. A deeper understanding: Choosing an exercise self-efficacy scale for college aged wellness clients. Accepted for CSM 2018 in New Orleans, LA as a poster presentation.

Allison, J. Sebelski, C. Manual therapy interventions for adolescent to collegiate-aged individuals with post-concussion disorder: a rapid review. 2016. Presented at World Congress in South Africa 2017 as a poster presentation.

Allison, J. Sebelski, C. Manual therapy interventions for adolescent to collegiate-aged individuals with post-concussion disorder: a rapid review. 2016. Presented at CSM 2017 in San Antonio, TX as a poster presentation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I apply for a residency program or a fellowship program? What is the difference?

The American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education states:"The residency experience combines opportunities for ongoing mentoring and formal and informal feedback to the physical therapist resident, including required written and live patient practical examinations, with a foundation in scientific inquiry, evidence-based practice and course work designed to provide a theoretical basis for advanced practice.A residency program must be completed within a minimum of 1,500 hours including a minimum of 150 hours of one to one mentoring and a minimum of 75 hours of didactic training completed between nine to 36 months within the specialty area of practice. A fellowship program allows a therapist to subspecialize in an area of practice and must be completed with a minimum of 1,000 hours and between six to 36 months."

How does the SLU-SSM Health Orthopedic Residency Program differ from other residency programs?

The SLU-SSM Health Physical Therapy Orthopedic Residency Program is an accredited residency located in the heart of the Midwest. It offers you the unique opportunity to be mentored by experts in two different facilities, to instruct in SLU's entry-level program in physical therapy and to participate in pro bono services to the Saint Louis community. The partnership between the two facilities provides access to numerous resources, clinical experiences and expertise in a variety of settings for orthopedic patient care.

How many years of experience in the physical therapy field should I have before applying?

Recent graduates of APTA-credentialed physical therapy programs are eligible to apply, as are physical therapists who are new to the field of orthopedics and are interested in one-on-one mentoring.

How large is the program?

Two residents are accepted each year.

How long is the program?

The program begins in mid-August and runs for one year. Residents begin work at a clinical site, then instruct within SLU's entry-level DPT program.

When is the application deadline?

March 1. Only one annual application cycle is offered, beginning after the first of the year.

What physical therapy degree should I hold to apply to the Orthopedic Residency Program?

Applicants can hold a bachelor's, master's or doctor of physical therapy degree.

Will I be prepared to take the orthopedic clinical specialist exam after I graduate?

Yes. Our curriculum is developed from the Description of Specialty Practice readiness guidelines. An emphasis is placed on the concepts and knowledge necessary for the OCS exam.

Is an interview a required part of the application process?

Yes, a personal interview with the faculty of the SLU-SSM Health Residency Program is a requirement of the application process for invited applicants.

Can student loans be deferred while I am enrolled in the program?

Typically, yes; however different lenders may have different policies. Check with your specific lender regarding your individual account and its management.

What are the requirements for successful completion of the program?

Residents are expected to demonstrate successful completion of written and oral exams, and practical examinations with patients.

Must I be licensed to practice physical therapy in the state of Missouri?

Yes. You must have a Missouri state physical therapy license prior to beginning the residency in August.

Where will I practice if I am accepted to the program?

Residents practice for approximately six months at each of the two locations: SSM Health Physical Therapy and Saint Louis University's Physical Therapy Clinic.

What expenses can I expect to incur?

Residents are expected be a member of the APTA. Expenses include living, transportation, parking, APTA membership and conference fees. Learning materials such as additional texts, independent study course modules, computer access and suitable professional clothing should also be expected expenses.

Will I be paid?

Yes. Residents in this program are considered full time, benefited SSM Health employees and are paid a competitive rate for their non-mentored hours of patient care and for their role in the entry-level courses at the SLU physical therapy program.