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Physical Therapy Orthopedic Residency Program

A 12-month comprehensive clinical care residency experience that is coordinated through one-on-one patient care rotations primarily at the Durham VA Health Care System outpatient and inpatient setting. Over the course of the program structured rotations are designed to maximize exposure to a broad range of orthopedic diagnoses.

Program Director 
Benjamin Soydan PT, DPT, OCS, CCI

History and Program Overview

Initial inception for a Physical Therapy Residency in Orthopedics occurred in 2015. With funding provided by the Veteran’s Health Administration’s Office of Academic Affiliations, the Durham VA Health Care System Physical Therapy Orthopedic Residency was approved and formally developed within 2018. Through a strong academic affiliation with Duke University Medical Center and Campbell University as well as agreement with Womack Army Medical Center, a comprehensive residency experience was developed. The program officially achieved ABPTRFE accreditation in May of 2020. With a strong clinical and didactic foundation, the program is currently is recruiting for the residency year 2021-2022.

SPECIAL NOTE: As a VA facility and health care system, we are proud to have been one of the first health care systems to utilize telehealth models of patient care. We as a facility see this as a very necessary means of care and anticipate continued expansion not only within this year, but intrinsic in future care models. As a residency program, are proud to be on the forefront of telehealth care as an adjunct model of Physical Therapy patient management and have been successfully integrating this into our outpatient care model since the 2020 academic year

Program Mission

Using an integrated health care model and an interdisciplinary team approach, the mission of the Durham Veteran’s Administration Health Care System Physical Therapy Orthopedics Residency is to develop orthopedic clinical specialists trained in advanced skill that serve as future leaders in the excellent health care of patients with orthopedic physical therapy needs.

Program Goals

  • Provide a thorough and high quality multi-dimensional residency experience to the resident.
  • Graduate residents who demonstrate and maintain commitment to pursuit of professional growth and excellence within orthopedic physical therapy.
  • Ensure residents will achieve and demonstrate proficiency in knowledge and clinical skill required of an advanced orthopedic clinical specialist.
  • Maintain internal sustainability of the orthopedic physical therapy residency program at the Durham VA Health Care System.
  • Ensure that program and residents advance the human resource capabilities and systems driving improved performance and outcomes involved in the field of orthopedic physical therapy.
  • Maintain ABPTRFE Residency Accreditation

Didactic Curriculum

Through comprehensive coursework, one-on-one didactic sessions, clubs, conferences, multiple clinic observation, and grand rounds sessions, the resident will be guided through a robust didactic curriculum. This has been designed to align with the ABPTS Orthopedic Description of Specialty Practice and ensure adequate material coverage in preparation for the ABPTE Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Examination.

Mentoring & Faculty

  • The program includes regular weekly opportunities for one-on-one pre-planned mentoring sessions throughout the residency. These are designed to promote advanced patient care with focus on clinical skill and critical reasoning required of an advanced PT practitioner in Orthopaedics.
  • Through agreement with Womack Army Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center, we are able to offer a diverse clinical faculty. Interests and training include Orthopedics, Geriatrics, Neurology, and Pediatrics, Manual intervention, Chronic Pain management, and Dry Needling.

Clinical Settings

A comprehensive clinical care experience is coordinated through one-on-one patient care rotations primarily at the Durham VA Health Care System outpatient and inpatient setting. Over the course of 12-months, structured rotations are designed to maximize exposure to a broad range of orthopedic diagnoses. Select observational experiences are integrated at Duke University Medical Center. Through agreement with the DOD, we boast opportunity for a unique 6-week planned experience at Fort Bragg (Womack Army Medical Center)* where the resident will be working directly with active military.

In keeping with the push for direct access care, we currently host specialty PT clinics for urgent care needs/direct access as well as directly within the Emergency Department. Additionally, the program accesses a myriad of other specialty physical therapy, occupational therapy, as well as physician clinics for observation.

* The ability to secure a resident experience at Fort Liberty is fully dependent on current military, administrative, and soldier deployment status, all of which are unfortunately constantly in flux and somewhat unpredictable. We wish to inform every applicant that while we will make every effort to ensure a clinical experience at Fort Liberty, we CANNOT fully guarantee that this will occur.

Academic Experiences

  • With instruction from on-site mentorship, the program integrates Lab and Lectureship involvement opportunities through Duke University, Campbell University, and most recently, High Point University’s DPT program musculoskeletal curriculum.

Adjunct Experiences

  • Specialty Clinic observational opportunities are available including various Orthopedics department clinics, Amputee clinic, Women’s Health, Neuro/Vestibular Clinic, EMG and Pain clinics, Mobility Clinic, as well as select surgical observations.

Clinical Core Faculty

Steve Fairbanks PT, DPT, Board Certified Specialist in Geriatric PT

Adam Gilbertson PT, DPT, Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedic PT

Tawny Kross PT, DPT, Cert.DN

Brandon Sheets PT, DPT, Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedic PT

John Sizemore PT, DPT, Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedic PT

Womack Army Medical Center Clinical Mentors 

Heriberto Baez-Martinez PT, MPH

Duke University Faculty: 
Neal Depersia DPT, PCS

Additional Academic and Didactic Faculty

Cory Alcon PT, DPT

Tiffany Hilton PT, Ph.D.

Caitlin Kucharik OTR/L

William Law MD

Bradley Myers PT, DPT, DSc,

Maureen Noh MD

Mary Thompson PT, DPT

For additional information, please contact:

Benjamin Soydan PT, DPT, OCS, CCI
Program Director
Durham VA Health Care System
508 Fulton Street, Durham NC 27705

Timothy S. Skarada PT
Chief of Physical Therapy
Durham VA Health Care System
508 Fulton Street, Durham NC 27705



Program Graduation Rate: 100%

ABPTS Board Certification Pass rate: 100%


Resident Retained within Durham VA system: 50%

Resident Retained within any VA system: 75%

Physical Therapy Orthopaedic Residency Program FAQs

How many Residents do you accept?

We accept one Resident into the program each year. Applicants must have USA Citizenship, be proficient in the English language, and have successfully completed a CAPTE accredited Physical Therapy program. Personal interviews are required.

What are the prerequisites for eligibility?

1. Successful graduation from a CAPTE accredited Physical Therapy program
2. Submission of academic transcripts from Physical Therapy training
3. A current Physical Therapy license from any state in the USA. However, residents are encouraged to acquire a North Carolina License from the NC Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. For those recently graduated or anticipating graduation, obtaining license prior to the program start date is preferred
4. Three references, including two references from former Physical Therapy employment or student affiliation clinical instructors
5. A personal essay describing interest in orthopedics
6. USA citizenship
7. Proficiency in the English language
8. Current professional resume
9. A group interview at Durham VAHCS. Currently the group interview is being conducted by the residency program director, Physical Therapy Department Chief, and 2 faculty mentors.

What is the application deadline?

February 1st

How long is the program?

This is a one year, 366-day temporary appointment. Anticipated start date is the 1st Monday after the 4th of July Holiday.

What will my weekly schedule be?

  • The tour of duty will be from 8AM to 4:30PM Monday through Friday. Residents will have clinical duties for ~30 hours/week and ~10 hours/week of didactic and individual mentoring.

What does mentoring entail?

  • "Mentoring is a professional relationship where a more experienced mentor guides a less experienced mentee to promote professional growth in a clinical setting. It is not the same as providing clinical instruction to the entry-level Physical Therapy student. It is pre-planned to meet specific educational objectives and facilitate the development of advanced professional behaviors, clinical decision making, proficiency in communications, and consultation skills" (APTA 2012). Our program has a minimum of 150 hours of 1:1 mentoring. However, upwards of 200 hours or more is to be expected including observational opportunities. This may include time spent with patients present and without. However, residents are to anticipate mentoring to occur primarily with patient’s present up to 10 hours/wk. This is not associated with the resident’s required ‘Independent patient care’, which accounts for between 20 and 28 hours/wk.

What clinical experiences should I expect?

  • The Durham VA is a tertiary referral hospital, and we provide a wide variety of clinical experiences at the Durham VA as well as Duke University Medical Center and Womack Army Medical Center. While clinical rotations allow for experience with both outpatient and inpatient musculoskeletal caseloads, the program is designed to provide a majority experience in the outpatient setting.
  • Observational opportunities are available at Duke University Medical Center. Additionally, anticipate planned multiple half-day experiences to occur in pediatric orthopedic settings.
  • Anticipate a 6-week clinical rotation at Womack Army Medical Center (Fort Liberty, Fayetteville, NC)**

** The ability to secure a resident experience at Fort Liberty is fully dependent on current military, administrative, and soldier deployment status, all of which are unfortunately constantly in flux and somewhat unpredictable. We wish to inform every applicant that while we will make every effort to ensure a clinical experience at Fort Liberty, we CANNOT fully guarantee that this will occur

Is housing provided or available near Fort Liberty for this rotational component?

  • While some may choose to commute daily to and from Fort Bragg, we understand that most may wish to pursue housing accommodations for a short period nearer this rotation site.
  • Currently, while housing is not funded by the VA health care system, options for short term accommodations are available immediately off-base and to be pursued on an individual basis.
  • In addition to general short term housing resources (VRBO, AIRBNB, HOMEAWAY, etc…),the nine regional North Carolina AHECs provide housing in 50 counties in approximately 70 towns and cities across the state.
  • Most housing is provided through rented apartments or AHEC-owned homes/condos, but private homeowners, especially in rural areas, are also offered at times.
  • Rate is reported up to $25 per night.
  •  Any health sciences student may apply for NC AHEC housing through an online portal at Each AHEC reviews applications, considering a variety of factors (date of application, length of stay, co-ed status, school affiliation) and notifies the student as soon as possible.

Will I have to study outside of work? 

  • Anticipate being required to dedicate time for residency purposes outside of tour of duty hours. Resident’s typically have several hours of self-directed study each week outside of the typical work hours. This is often reading and preparation for required professional presentations or other academic requirements.

What is the tuition, if any, for this program?

  • Tuition is required to cover the cost of select didactic materials used within the residency. While this may change due to adjustments in cost of didactic coursework, anticipate a tuition of approximately ~$550-600.

Will I received a stipend?

  • Yes. The stipend is determined by the VA Office of Academic Affairs. As of the most current data from the Office of Academic Affiliations, this is currently $54,233.

Will I be eligible for benefits?

  • Yes. Benefits include health insurance with options for vision and dental insurance, annual leave, and sick leave. Sick and annual leave accrual rate is 4 hours of paid annual leave and 4 hours of sick leave per 2-week pay period. This is in addition to receiving 11 paid federal holidays per year including New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Will I have an opportunity to attend a professional meeting or outside classes?

  • Residents are encouraged to attend the APTA CSM or NC State PT meeting. While funding to attend professional meetings and/or outside classes is not provided, but authorized absence is available.

When will the program begin?

  • The Residency Program is scheduled to begin in early July.

Am I able to move the start date?

  • Unfortunately, start date is non-negotiable as start dates are aligned with funding as well as with our Physical Therapy Geriatric Residency and Occupational Therapy Residency in Mental Health.

Will I be prepared to take the Orthopedic Specialty Exam upon completion of the program?

  • Yes. One of our main goals is for all Resident’s completing the program to take the OCS exam and become Certified Specialists in Orthopedic Physical Therapy. We make every effort to ensure that the clinical experience as well as didactic content parallel that expected of an advanced practitioner in Orthopedic Physical Therapy as defined by the ABPTS and tested on in the ABPTE Orthopedic Clinical Specialty Exam. The specialty exam is scheduled annually in March. We encourage residents to apply for the exam the year following their graduation from the residency program. Residents are responsible for all application and testing fees. For more information on application deadlines, testing dates, and costs please see the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialty website (
  • Residents in good standing will be encouraged to apply for job vacancies within the VA system, but a job is not guaranteed. We will help support Residents during the Spring of the Residency as they search and apply for potential post-graduation employment opportunities.

How do I apply to the program?

All applications are to apply using the Residency and Fellowship Physical Therapy Centralized Application System (RF-PTCAS). All applications received in full (including official transcripts), will be sent to the Durham VA residency program after application closure date. NOTE: You must have completed your application and initiated transcripts to be sent to RF-PTCAS by this date to be considered for the position. You may access the application through the RF-PTCAS website cited here: 

You may contact the program director with any further inquiry at: 
Benjamin Soydan PT, DPT, OCS, CCI
Program Director
508 Fulton Street, Durham NC 27705


ABPTRFE Accredited Program