What is the Difference between Residency and Fellowship?

What is the Difference between Residency and Fellowship?

It sounds like Residency and Fellowship training are very similar. What’s the difference?

While Residency and Fellowship Education look similar on the surface there are some major differences. Fellowships are technically a “sub-specialty” meaning they fall under another specialty area. For Orthopaedics there are six fellowship programs including Hand Therapy, Movement Systems, Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy, Performing Arts, Spine, and Upper Extremity. Often, individuals transition their clinical specialty through an Orthopaedic Residency or previous experience. Here we have provided some of the technical differences between the two:

Orthopaedic Residency

Designed to take a generalist to a skilled clinician in orthopaedic practice gaining confidence in advanced interventions and clinical reasoning. Curriculums are based on the Description of Residency Practice in Orthopaedics and prepares graduates to sit for the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists Orthopaedic Certified Specialist (OCS) Exam with components of foundational knowledge, examination, assessment, intervention, outcomes, critical assessment of research, and professional behaviors. There are 110 accredited Orthopaedic Residencies in the US.

  • Mentoring: 150 hours (at least 100 hrs 1:1 in patient care)
  • Didactic Hours: Minimum of 300 hours

Orthopaedic Fellowship

Expands beyond the specialization in orthopaedics and combines opportunities for ongoing clinical mentoring with a theoretical basis for developing in a subspecialty area of practice. Go from clinical specialist to a clinical expert. Fellowship training represents the highest level of recognized clinical training. There are 32 accredited Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Fellowships in the US in partnership with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT), 3 Spine, 3 Upper Extremity, 2 Hand Therapy, and 2 Movement Systems Fellowships.

  • Mentoring: 150 hours (at least 75 hrs. 1:1 in patient care)
  • Didactic Hours: Minimum of 150 hours

OMPT Fellowships may have different requirements

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