Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program
The VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program is designed to offer licensed physical therapists an opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills in the area of geriatric specialty practice.
This clinical training will help prepare the resident for Geriatric Clinical Specialist (GCS) certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) upon completion of the program.
Residents are employed full-time by the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System for the year long program and thus must be U.S. citizens. Clinical training consists of managing a caseload of patients with geriatric involvement, mentoring sessions with highly experienced clinical staff (4 hours/week), as well as a didactic curriculum component (4 hours/week). Clinical training opportunities exist within Acute Care, Critical Care (ICU), Inpatient Rehabilitation, Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder Clinic, Home Health, Outpatient, Vestibular Rehab, Brain Injury, and Chronic Pain clinics. Residents will also have opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary patient rounds, journal clubs, staff in-service presentations, research projects, mentoring doctoral students, assisting in geriatric/neurologic/orthopaedic labs at the University of Colorado, and observing surgeries.
100% graduation rate
100% ABPTS GCS pass rate on the first attempt
Mission and goals
The VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System’s Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program is dedicated to provide academic and clinical education that is required to produce advanced practitioners in the field of geriatric physical therapy. Graduates of the residency will contribute to the profession through advanced clinical practice, clinical research, and teaching which will all benefit the local community.
Program goals and objectives
1. The Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program will support the mission and core values of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System, to improve the quality of care to veterans served by advanced practitioners.
- The Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program will provide training to residents in evidence-based geriatric specialty content for a geriatric veteran population to improve physical function and quality of life.
- Resident productivity meets clinic standards.
- Residents will provide high quality of care to our geriatric veteran population
2. The Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program will provide learning opportunities through clinical modules to improve resident’s knowledge and skill in geriatric specialty content to develop residents clinical reasoning and evidence-based practice.
- Provide learning experiences in 3 modules which encompass all practice settings required by the Geriatric Description of Residency Practice. Module I Aucte/Critical Care/SubAcute Rehab; Module II Acute Rehab/SCI/Home Health; Module III Outpatient.
- Provide learning experiences in all primary health conditions required by the Geriatric Description of Residency PracticeResident will achieve at least a 70% score on the live patient examinations
3. The Geriatric Physical Therapy 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.
- Achieve reaccreditation following initial accreditation.
4. The Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program will provide a curriculum in a Geriatric specialty that includes advanced practice concepts.
- Provide curriculum and training that addresses all components of the Geriatric Description of Residency Practice.
- Provide a minimum of 300 educational hours per quality standards.
- Graduates will successfully pass the Geriatric Clinical Specialist Certification Examination administered by ABPTS.
5. The Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program will graduate residents who will contribute to the profession through advanced clinical practice, clinical research, teaching/mentoring, and service.
- Graduate residents will be competent mentors and provide teaching and/or mentorship in a geriatric specialty to doctoral students, post-professional residents, and/or post-professional therapist.
- Graduate residents will be consulted as geriatric physical therapy subject matter experts and offer exceptional patient management and care representative of a ABPTS geriatric specialist.
6. The Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program is sustainable
- Attract qualified applicants with geriatric experiences who demonstrate a passion for the geriatric specialty.
- Maintain adequate size faculty of 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 geriatric residency programs.
- Apply and receive resident stipend(s) from the Office of Academic Affiliations.
- Receive funds from our PMRS department to purchase curriculum.
The didactic curriculum will be comprised of webinars from The APTA Learning Center, MedBridge webinars, and onsite didactic lectures. The webinars will prepare participants for successful completion of the GCS by improving skills in clinical reasoning, movement analysis, assessment, and intervention in geriatric patients.
The onsite didactic lectures prepared and presented by our faculty will implement current research and case studies. This will prepare residents to practice evidence-based medicine, differential diagnose, and identify more serious disease processes where referral to a medical doctor would be warranted. The selected webinars and onsite didactic lectures have been scheduled with the appropriate clinical modules to coordinate didactic topic with primary health conditions treated by the resident.
Clinical mentoring will occur weekly with faculty in each of the clinical practice settings which include but are not limited to Acute Care, Critical Care (ICU), Inpatient Rehabilitation, Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder Clinic, Home Health, Outpatient, Vestibular Rehab, Brain Injury, and Chronic Pain. 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 (minimum 4 hours) and didactic learning from faculty (minimum 4 hours), independent study (2 hours), surgery observation, journal clubs, research projects, and mentoring of doctoral physical therapy students.
How to apply
- 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)
To view our program profile, please visit the ABPTRFE website. If you have met 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 Jeffrey Youngberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
PT Residency Program director
Dr. Jeffrey Youngberg, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Youngberg received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from the University at Buffalo in 2004. He achieved his Orthopaedic Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in 2007 and recertified in 2017. Youngberg’s clinical experiences lie primarily in outpatient orthopaedics in a hospital system and in occupational health before coming on board to VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System in 2008.
Youngberg graduated from the Manual Therapy Institutes Manual Therapy Certification and Fellowship program in 2011 and achieved Fellowship status from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapist later that year. Youngberg developed The Eastern Colorado Healthcare System Orthopaedic Residency Program in 2013 and serves as physical therapy residency program director, clinical faculty and mentor of the program He is also residency program director of our geriatric residency and neurologic residency which were both developed in 2018. He currently serves as adjunct faculty for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and is actively involved in physical therapy research through the University of Colorado.
PT Residency Program coordinator
Dr. Spring Wright, PT, DPT, GCS
Mayer received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from Creighton University, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions in 2007. Since graduation, her clinical practice has focused on geriatric populations. She initially worked in a Skilled Nursing Facility, before accepting a position at the VAEastern Colorado Healthcare System in 2008. Her time at VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System has been spent working in the acute care setting, with a focus on early mobility in the ICU. She has also worked extensively with patients with amputations.
Mayer achieved her Geriatric Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in 2018. She serves as the Geriatric Residency program coordinator, clinical faculty and mentor of the residency program. She currently serves as an associated faculty for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Dr. Erica DiScipio, PT, DPT
DiScipio received her Transition Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from The University of Montana in 2015 and Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Colorado in 2003. Prior to working as a physical therapist in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Department at the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System since 2003, she gained experience working in various practice settings including inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, long-term care, and home health.
DiScipio was employed as a certified nurse’s aide at Craig Hospital and in a home health care setting for 10 years prior to becoming a physical therapist. DiScipio is the lead PT for the inpatient rehab unit at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center primarily specializing in neurologic conditions including cerebral vascular accident, spinal cord injury, brain injury, Parkinson Disease, multiple sclerosis, less common neurological diseases, as well as amputee rehabilitation. She is a member of the APTA and the Academy of Neurologic PT. DiScipio is a certified clinical instructor, mentoring students from the University of Colorado and Regis University.
Dr. Sarah Lange, PT, DPT, NCS
Lange received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree from The Northwestern University Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science Program in 2013. Following graduation, she practiced in an inpatient rehab facility prior to beginning a neurological residency program at The James A. Haley VA in Tampa, Florida. Following completion of the program in 2015, Lange accepted an outpatient neurological position within the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System. She achieved her Neurological Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists in 2016. More recently, she has developed neurologic programs at VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System including advancements in vestibular rehab for veterans, LSVT BIG opportunities for individuals with Parkinson’s in addition to a newly developed PD Multidiscipline team. Lange is a clinical instructor and serves as clinical faculty for the University of Colorado.
Dr. Angela Porto, PT, DPT, OCS
Porto received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center in 2012. She worked in private practice orthopaedics prior to starting as the first VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System Orthopaedic Resident in 2013. She completed the program in 2014 and transitioned to a full-time staff physical therapist. Porto achieved her Orthopaedic Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in 2015. She transitioned into a role as a mentor and faculty member of the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System later that year and continues to serve as mentor and faculty within the program. She currently serves as adjunct faculty for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and is actively involved in physical therapy research through the University of Colorado.
Dr. Benjamin Kottmeyer, PT, DPT, OCS
Kottmeyer completed his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from The University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2014. Following graduation, Kottmeyer worked across the country as a traveling physical therapist, primarily in outpatient orthopedic settings. In 2017, he graduated from the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System Orthopedic Residency Program. He then accepted a full-time staff physical therapist position with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Denver. Kottmeyer achieved his Orthopedic Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in 2018. Kottmeyer currently serves as a faculty member and mentor for the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System Orthopedic Residency, adjunct faculty for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and participates in research through the University of Colorado.
Dr. Donavan Taraba, PT, DPT
Taraba received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from The Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, at Regis University in 2016. Following graduation, he was offered a position at Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in the acute care setting. Much of his clinical practice is spent in the ICU where his principle focus involves working with patients with cardiopulmonary diagnoses. He is an active member of the Academy of Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Physical Therapy and hopes to take the knowledge and skills acquired in his current setting, to become a Certified Cardiopulmonary Specialist.
Prior to his career in Physical Therapy, Taraba earned his Masters in Education at the University of Denver. He designed curriculum and lesson plans and taught locally in the field of Social Sciences and Mathematics for nearly ten years. He continues to apply his experience in education as a Certified APTA Clinical Instructor and as a mentor of the Geriatric Residency Program.
Dr. Taylor Thurston, PT, DPT, GCS
Thurston received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from Wayne State University in 2018. Following graduation, she moved to Denver where she worked in private practice outpatient orthopedics. She accepted a position at the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System in 2019. Her time at the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System has been spent in outpatient orthopedics, with an emphasis on the geriatric population. She currently treats both orthopedic and neurological conditions. Thurston achieved her Geriatric Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in 2021. She currently serves as a mentor for the Geriatric Residency, is a certified clinical instructor, and is actively involved in research through the University of Colorado.
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 VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System 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 4 hours of sick leave per pay period. It will also include 10 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 and one day from the start date.
How many residents do you accept?
At this time, we are accepting one resident into the geriatric residency program per year.
When does the residency program begin?
The program is scheduled to begin the first week of August with completion the following August.
How many hours a week will I spend treating patients?
Mentoring sessions with clinical staff will average minimum four hours per week, didactic curriculum component averaging a minimum four hours per week, and independent study averaging two hours per week. Please be advised that these are only 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 strictly to 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 clinic will I be able to experience?
- Acute Care
- Critical Care
- Inpatient Rehab
- Home Health
- Vestibular Rehab
- Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder
- Brain Injury
- Chronic Pain
What will my schedule be?
While your schedule is subject to change depending on the needs of the department it typically will be from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 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 geriatric 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 is available at American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).