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Physical Therapy Neurologic Residency Program

The Milwaukee VA Medical Center (Zablocki) Neurologic Residency Program is the oldest post-graduate Physical Therapy Residency Program in the VA system. Established in 2009, it was originally titled the Marquette University & Zablocki VA Medical Center Neurologic Residency Program. The program continues to be affiliated and highly collaborative with Marquette University’s Physical Therapy Program and is accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency & Fellowship Education, with re-accreditation occurring in 2026.

Our program strives to provide residents with:

  • High-quality didactic programming on foundational principles of neurologic clinical practice as outlined in the Description of Residency Practice in Neurology.
  • Advanced mentoring in neurologic clinical practice with master clinicians.
  • Opportunities for the residents to educate others about neurologic disorders, their evaluation and treatment.
  • Research exposure through scholarly activities.

The Milwaukee VA Medical Center Neurologic Residency Program, in affiliation with Marquette University, selects three candidates from a large pool of applicants annually. Residents rotate through three areas of clinical practice: Inpatient Acute Care/Rehabilitation, Spinal Cord Injury/Disorders and Outpatient Neurologic Clinic. 

Program design is in accordance with American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education Guidelines.  This includes 32 hours/week of clinical treatment with Veterans with neurologic diagnosis. Additionally, the program also collaborates with other outside sites to improve the resident’s exposure to neurologic patient populations not commonly seen at the VA. 

Residents participate in four hours of mentorship a week with expert clinicians and didactic education at the Zablocki VAMC, as well as additional experiences including, but not limited to: rounding, specialty clinics, interdisciplinary team participation, staff in-service presentations and clinical education.

Marquette University’s Physical Therapy Program provides residents with teaching opportunities in neurologic coursework; residents will receive adjunct faculty status.

Residents are expected to participate in and lead national neurologic residency journal club sessions, provide in-service presentations to VA staff and are encouraged to attend American Physical Therapy Association's Combined Section Meeting. Funding to attend CSM is not provided, but authorized absence will be granted.

Upon successful completion of the residency, a graduate is qualified to apply and sit for the APTA Neurologic Clinical Specialty examination. The Milwaukee VAMC Neurological Residency Program has an overall NCS exam pass rate of 100 percent.

Our Mission

To prepare physical therapy residents for advanced specialty practice. The program cultivates high-level neurologic physical therapists who integrate the teacher-scholar model into their clinical practice. Through neurologic clinical experiences under the mentorship of master clinicians, along with didactic learning experiences in neurology including teaching, the program develops advanced physical therapy practitioners who care for the whole patient, embodying the spirit of cura personalis

Program Outcomes 2009-2023

  • Residents Admitted:   37
  • Residents Graduated:   33
  • First Attempt NCS Pass Rate:   97%
  • Overall NCS Pass Rate: 100%  
  • Graduate Retention within VA:   48% (16 of 33 graduates)

Employment Benefits

  • Stipend - one year temporary appointment
  • Health insurance
  • Paid leave days: 13.5 annual, 13.5 sick, 12 observed federal holidays
  • Authorized absence for Marquette University obligations and for approved continuing education
  • Personal workstation, access to office supplies
  • Research librarians available on site
  • Medical Media services onsite

Applicant Minimal Requirements

  • Be a citizen of the United States of America due to employment requirements by the Veterans Health Administration.
  • Be a graduate of or demonstrate imminent graduation from an accredited physical therapy program recognized by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
  • Be fully licensed by any state in the union to practice Physical Therapy. If the candidate is a student at the time of application, the applicant must successfully take and pass the licensure exam or be scheduled to sit for the July test date.
  • Be American Heart Association Basic Life Support certified
  • Not be on probation or under a learning contract at their current facility or program.
  • Demonstrate evidence of neurologic interest and pursuit of additional training/experiences in this area.

The U.S. government is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex/gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, membership in employee organizations or other non-merit factors.

In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the federal government requires all agencies to reasonably accommodate known physical or mental limitations of qualified disabled employees or applicants. The VA is committed to providing appropriate reasonable accommodations for everyone who requires them.

Application Process

The applicant will submit a completed application portfolio through the RF-PTCAS system which will include:

  • Completed residency application form with resume.
  • Transcripts of entry-level physical therapy education.
  • State license number or plan for obtaining prior to the residency start date.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to their clinical skills.
  • Response to three essay questions.

Important Dates

  • Application deadline: First week of January
  • Interview date: mid- to late February
  • Admission decision date: Mid-March
  • Program start date: First week of July

* Dates are approximate and may be subject to change

About the Veterans Health Administration

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” -- Abraham Lincoln

The mission of the VHA is to improve the health of the served veteran population by providing primary care, specialty care, extended care and related social support services in an integrated health care delivery system.

The vision of the VHA will continue to be the benchmark of excellence and value in health care and benefits by providing exemplary services that are both patient-centered and evidence based. This care will be delivered by engaged, collaborative teams in an integrated environment that supports learning, discovery and continuous improvement. It will emphasize prevention and population health and contribute to the nation's well-being through education, research and service in national emergencies.

Our Journey with Marquette University

The Milwaukee VA Medical Center has collaborated with Marquette University’s Physical Therapy Program since 1955 and was the first clinical site for Marquette’s Physical Therapy Program. This relationship continues today with Milwaukee VAMC providing clinical placement for pre-professional trainees, neurological clinical lab experiences and with collaboration in our Neurological Clinical Residency Program.

About the Milwaukee VA Medical Center

The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center (ZVAMC) is a 1A (the highest) complexity facility serving over 64,000 unique Veterans in 16 counties in Southeastern Wisconsin. The facility includes 196 hospital beds, 113 Community Living Center beds, 150 domiciliary beds, nine transitional beds and has seven separate CARF accredited programs. In 2018, ZVAMC had 9,058 hospital admissions and over 824,000 outpatient visits. In 2018, the ZVAMC PT Department completed 16,905 consults and 52,990 Veteran encounters.

The Zablocki VAMC is located on 245 acres just west of Milwaukee, WI. Originally established in 1867, we are one of the oldest VA sites in the country. Our extensive grounds house both modern and historical buildings alike for patient care and general facility operations.


Christina Kowalski
Milwaukee VA Neurologic Residency Program Director