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Physical Therapy Orthopaedic Residency Program

The Zablocki VA Medical Center, in affiliation with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, offers a 12-month Orthopaedic PT Residency Program featuring individualized mentorship, clinical education, didactic and teaching opportunities. This program is accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency & Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE). Residents who successfully complete an accredited program will be eligible to take the Orthopedic Certified Specialist exam through the APTA.

The Milwaukee VA Medical Center (Zablocki) Orthopaedic Residency Program, in affiliation with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), strives to provide residents with:

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

Our Mission

Cultivate orthopedic clinicians who will be challenged to achieve vast growth in professional development through mentorship, advanced clinical training, scholarly activities, didactic learning, and teaching opportunities. Guiding these physical therapy residents into evidence-based expert clinicians who are leaders in the field of orthopedic physical therapy practice; exemplifying VHA’s core ICARE values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.

Program Outcomes 2022-2023

  • Residents admitted: 2
  • Residents graduated: 1
  • First attempt NCS pass rate: Initial graduate to sit for exam in 2024
  • Overall NCS pass rate: Initial graduate to sit for exam in 2024
  • Graduate retention within VA: 0%

About the program

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

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

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee provides residents with teaching opportunities in orthopaedic coursework, a resident will receive clinical adjunct faculty status.

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 teaching obligations and for approved continuing education attendance
  • Personal workstation, access to office supplies
  • Online library services; research librarians also available on site
  • Medical Media services onsite
  • Medbridge online continuing education membership during residency stay

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 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 orthopaedic 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:  February/March
  • Admission decision date: by end of May
  • 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.

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 Orthopedic Residency Program Director