Skip to Content

Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency Program

The Cheyenne VA Healthcare System Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency Program is designed to offer licensed physical therapists an opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills in orthopaedic specialty practice.

This clinical training will help prepare the resident for Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) upon completion of the program, which is accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association.

Residents are employed full-time by the Cheyenne VA Healthcare System for the year-long program and thus must be U.S. citizens. The primary location of the Resident will be at the Northern Colorado VA Outpatient clinic in Loveland, CO. Clinical training consists of managing a caseload of patients with orthopaedic involvement, mentoring sessions with highly experienced clinical staff (minimum 5 hours/week), as well as a didactic curriculum component (minimum 4 hours/week). Clinical training opportunities exist within outpatient clinics, Veterans Express same-day care, amputee clinic, and powered mobility and seating clinic . Residents will also have opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary patient rounds, journal clubs, staff in-service presentations, research projects, mentoring of doctoral students, pediatric patient observation with Children’s Hospital Colorado, and surgical observation.

Mission and goals

Mission statement

To provide high quality evidence based clinical training and mentorship to those seeking to become advanced practitioners and board-certified specialists in orthopaedic physical therapy. Graduates will continue to contribute to the field of orthopaedic physical therapy through advanced clinical practice, mentorship, and service all while supporting VA’s mission.

Program goals and objectives

1. To support the mission and core values of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Cheyenne Healthcare System, to improve the quality of care to veterans served by advanced practitioners.

  • The program will provide training in evidence-based specialty content for a Veteran population of all ages to improve physical function and quality of life.
  • Resident productivity will meet clinic standards.
  • Residents will provide high quality of care to the Veteran population

2. Prepare Residents to meet the established criteria for Specialist Certification in Orthopaedics and provide a curriculum in an orthopaedic specialty that includes advanced practice concepts.

  • Provide learning experiences in all primary health conditions required by the Orthopaedic Description of Residency Practice (DRP)
  • Provide a minimum of 300 educational hours per quality standards including a minimum of 150 hours of one-on-one mentoring
  • Graduates will successfully pass the Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist Certification Examination administered by ABPTS

3. Provide learning opportunities through clinical modulus to improve Residents’ knowledge and skill in orthopaedic specialty content and to develop clinical reasoning while practicing evidence-based care

  • Provide learning experiences in an outpatient orthopaedic setting which encompasses all practice settings required by the DRP
  • Spend up to 100 hours shadowing physical therapists in a pediatric patient population at Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Opportunity to participate in specialty clinics such as: Veterans Express same-day care, amputee, powered mobility and seating

4. Residents will demonstrate advanced competency in orthopaedic physical therapy

  • Residents will be graded and evaluated through practical examination, live patient examination, body region-specific written quizzes, and written mid-term and final exams

5. Residents will serve as mentors, teachers, and consultants in the field of orthopaedic physical therapy

  • Residents will be competent mentors and provide teaching and/or mentorship to doctoral students, post-professional residents, and/or post-professional therapists
  • Residents will be consulted as orthopaedic physical therapy subject matter experts and offer exceptional patient management and care representative of an advance clinician

6. The Physical Therapy Orthopaedic Residency Program will achieve and maintain accreditation through the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE)

  • Annual reports will be completed and submitted by deadline and will demonstrate compliance with residency quality standards
  • Residency Advisory Committee meets at least quarterly to review didactic, mentoring, and clinical experiences making improvements as needed.
  • Recruit and enroll 1 resident annually

7. Residency program is sustainable

  • Attract qualified applicants with orthopaedic experience who demonstrate a passion for the orthopaedic specialty.
  • Maintain adequate size faculty of orthopaedic clinical experts for mentoring and didactic instruction.
  • Provide graduate residents opportunities to stay within the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide high quality care to our veteran population and opportunities to mentor in orthopaedic residency programs.
  • Apply and receive resident stipend(s) from the Office of Academic Affiliations.


Our curriculum addresses all components of the Orthopaedic Description of Residency Practice which includes a blend of didactic learning activities, online resources, clinical mentoring, and laboratory practical work. The didactic portion is split into 3 major components: APTA Orthopaedic Residency Curriculum, lectures developed on all body regions, and manual therapy evaluation and treatment technique manual. The didactic portion described in more detail consists of:

  1. Basic Science, Orthopaedic Physical Therapy
  2. Pharmacology
  3. Clinical Imaging
  4. Pain Neuroscience Education
  5. Postoperative management of orthopaedic surgeries including foot and ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow
  6. Current concepts of orthopaedic physical therapy pertaining to all body regions
  7. Manual therapy evaluation and treatment techniques for all body regions
  8. Other specialized treatment techniques and paradigms to include Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment (McKenzie), Kinematic Taping, Dry Needling, etc.

Clinical mentoring will occur weekly with faculty in each of the clinical practice settings which include but are not limited to inpatient care, inpatient rehabilitation, and outpatient services. Didactic learning will occur weekly with faculty including lectures, labs, and discussion. It is estimated that approximately 30 hours a week will be dedicated to direct patient care with the remaining 10 hours available for educational experiences including mentoring (four hours) and didactic learning (4 hours), independent study (two hours), surgery observation, journal clubs, research projects, and mentoring of doctoral physical therapy students.

How to apply

Admission requirements

  • U.S. citizen
  • Applicant must have a degree from CAPTE accredited program
  • Successful/satisfactorily completed National Physical Therapy Examination
  • Applicant must obtain PT license prior to beginning the program (may be obtained from any state)

Application procedures

To view our program, please visit our profile on ABPTRFE website. If you have or will meet requirements prior to residency start date you may apply using the APTA Residency/Fellowship Physical Therapist Centralized Application Services (RF-PTCAS).

Should you have any other questions please contact Thomas ‘Ben’ Swink at:


PT Residency Program director

Dr. Thomas ‘Ben’ Swink, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Dr. Swink graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Ithaca College in 2012 and has been working in outpatient orthopaedic practice since that time. He has a passion for learning and teaching orthopedic manual therapy and has extensive post-graduation education in this specialty area of physical therapy. In 2014, he graduated from the Florida Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy and earned his manual therapy certification. He became board certified in orthopaedic practice through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in June of 2016 and graduated from the Regis University Fellowship in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy program in 2017. He currently represents the Northeast District of Colorado in the APTA House of Delegates and is an active member within the APTA Colorado Chapter.

Dr. Swink has a passion for teaching and learning within the field of orthopaedic physical therapy. His primary goal of this residency is to guide Resident development in a way that not only advances their practice in orthopaedic physical therapy and prepares them for board certification, but also fosters life-long learning with an emphasis on improving Veteran well-being. He strives to teach students to be critical and independent thinkers, skilled clinicians, and compassionate therapists.

Frequently asked questions

What is the cost of the program?

There is no cost associated with the program however there is a nominal cost associated with the APTA Residency/Fellowship Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service Required to apply for the program. If you are selected for the residency program you will become an employee of the CVAHCS for the duration of the residency.

How much will I be paid?

Salary is determined by VA Central Office and is preset. The program salary is currently $57,444. Salary is subject to change or fluctuates as determined by Office of Academic Affiliation at VA Central Office.

What benefits will I be eligible for?

Benefits will include 13 vacation days along with accrual of four hours of sick leave per pay period. It will also include 11 paid federal holidays, health benefits, vision, and dental benefits.

How long is the program?

If the resident meets all requirements as outlined the program should be completed in one year from the start date.

How many residents do you accept?

Currently, we are accepting one resident into the Orthopaedic Residency Program per year.

When does the residency program begin?

The program is scheduled to begin the first week of July with completion the following July.

How many hours a week will I spend treating patients?

Mentoring sessions with clinical staff will average four hours per week, didactic curriculum component averaging four hours per week, and independent study averaging two hours per week. (These are estimates and that actual time in mentoring and didactic studying may change at the discretion of the department.) The remainder of the time will be dedicated to direct patient care. It is highly anticipated that the resident will need to reserve time outside of work duties for preparation for the board exam during this training.

What will my schedule be?

While your schedule is subject to change depending on the needs of the department it typically will be from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and may include weekends or weekend days from time to time.

Does completing the residency guarantee me a job?

While residents in good standing will be employed for the duration of the residency program the VA maintains no obligation to retain the resident beyond the length of the residency program. Residents will be encouraged to apply for a position should there be openings after they have completed the residency program.

When would I be eligible to sit for the orthopaedic board certification exam?

Residents will apply in July of the year they are in the residency program and will sit for the exam February or March of the following year; a year earlier than would be possible without completing a residency. Residents are responsible for all application and testing fees. For more information on application deadlines and testing dates please see theAmerican Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).