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CNHP Establishes New Physical Therapy Residency Program

December 2, 2013

In June, a new post-graduate clinical physical therapy residency program in conjunction with the College of Nursing and Health Professions’ faculty practice initiatives was implemented in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences. Its mission is to provide post-professional didactic and clinical training to physical therapists who seek to develop advanced clinical decision making, manual and diagnostic skills in orthopaedic physical therapy.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), residency programs are highly effective and desirable because they substantially advance residents’ experience in important areas such as examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and management in defined areas of practice. Residencies are also effective in giving generalists skills in physical therapy that are recognized by the APTA as areas of specialization. 

Noel Goodstadt, DPT, an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, came to Drexel in 2008 from the University of Delaware, where he was the Associate Director of the Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Clinic and Coordinator of their Residency Program. Since his arrival, it has been Goodstadt’s intention to establish a residency program here at Drexel. Over the past several years, he has developed the vision and timeline for this massive undertaking and received an appointment from the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education. In June, Goodstadt’s goal of starting an orthopaedic residency at Drexel was realized, and the first two residents began the program. Most physical therapy residency programs have a very small number of residents at a single time because it improves their experience and the control that the institution has on the quality of the residency.

The Physical Therapy Department has been able to draw upon its resources to develop a strong residency program. Our 5 board certified orthopaedic specialists on faculty are each capable of providing instruction to residents, and a number of the courses for the residency are already up and running through the offerings in various post-professional programs within the department. The Residency Program will be able to draw upon the College’s multiple clinical sites, including the Recreation Center, 11th Street Family Health Services, and the upcoming 3 Parkway Health and Wellness practices. These clinical sites will benefit from having additional clinical staff at a reduced cost, as well as increased hours of operation and reduced waiting lists. The Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences will likewise benefit from residents, who will instruct labs, collaborate with faculty in their scholarship, and possibly become a funnel for new students in the Doctor of Health Sciences and PhD Programs. Lastly, instituting a new residency program here in the Philadelphia area will benefit the profession by increasing the number of advanced practitioners.

According to Goodstadt, the Residency Program’s first class must be in place before the College can apply for the APTA credential. He hopes that the residency program will be credentialed in 2014. Goodstadt has been a site visitor at other residency programs for APTA credentialing in the past, and so he has a strong understanding of what is needed in order to obtain approval from the organization. “My vision for the next 5 to 10 years is to increase the number of residents, as well as to expand to other areas such as to pediatrics and geriatrics,” Goodstadt said.

“Where we differ at Drexel is that we have a lot of higher level programs. All of those things are post-professional and most of them offer the didactic component, but don’t offer as much on the clinical side,” Goodstadt elaborated. “Residency training is really to put a person in a situation where they are also getting to use their didactic education right away with formalized mentorship. I might be teaching them in class and then they’re working in the clinic on that the next day.” Ideally, most of the residents in the program will be recent graduates of our DPT Program, or physical therapists who have been out of school for a few years and are looking to specialize. Enrolling in a residency program raises the level of their expertise and increases their skills significantly.

Ultimately, the residents’ final goal will be to sit for clinical specialist certification examinations. In order to sit for one of these tests, physical therapists must achieve 2,000 hours of practice or more in the specialty area. However, physical therapists in residency programs only need to complete a total of 1,500 hours before they are eligible to take the exam. This is yet another advantage of choosing a residency program.

The Drexel Physical Therapy Residency Program is 13 months long. The first class of residents will graduate in July 2014, after which time they will apply to take their certification examinations in March 2015.

Anyone interested in more information about this program or in applying to this program may contact Noel Goodstadt at or by phone at 215-762-3479.