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James H. Quillen VA Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency

This developing Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency is designed to offer a variety of unique clinical experiences to facilitate expert level clinical reasoning skills across the care continuum. Residents will manage patients in across practice settings including: outpatient, acute care, home care, and skilled nursing facility to meet the diverse care needs of older adults.

The program begins with a two-week orientation to both the VA and academic affiliate orientation which allows a smooth transition as they ramp-up for patient care. During this time the resident will spend most of their time with mentors in the program as they prepare for the transition to full schedule and caseload within the initial month. This ensures that the residents develop competence in all care settings, while improving their clinic skills and providing the best level of care to our nation’s veterans from the start.

A strength of the program is our dedication to mentoring and the didactic portion of the clinical residency. While it is common for residencies to focus on clinical practice, we believe that mentoring and dedicated academic time are key to growth. Resident schedules are blocked four hours each week for mentoring, and an additional four hours for didactic course work. During each session the resident will receive 1:1 training and hands on clinical instruction.  Mentoring is achieved through two primary mentors; however, mentees will have access to six board certified mentors to offer different clinical perspectives or additional areas of expertise.

Our didactic program progresses from foundational to specialty knowledge. Foundational classes are offered in a shared residency learning format, allowing residents irrespective of intended specialty, to learn the fundamentals of advanced clinical practice together. Didactic classes then progress to core clinical modules with an emphasis on systems or topics within the Description of Specialty Practice (DSP) in Geriatrics. Most classes are taught by PT mentors with guest lecturers from other disciplines to address specialty topics in geriatric practice.

Additional highlights of our program include professional interaction and common core classes taken with the Orthopaedic Clinical Residency, an affiliation with East Tennessee State University, generating case reports, presenting CEU lectures to local professional PT community, teaching experience, and development of a geriatric service-based learning project.

Program Philosophy

As a method of fulfilling the mission of the VA and provide the best level of care to our veterans, our residency is committed to providing the highest level of clinical education within the field of physical therapy. We believe residency training is an effective tool in this process. This in turn will directly impact patient care within the VA healthcare system and beyond. To push this further we strive to train and then graduate residents who will be leaders in the profession and positively impact the VA and their surrounding community. Ultimately the aim of our program is to foster and facilitate “lifelong learning”. As the field of physical therapy evolves, we to hope to be a driving force behind each step.

This program was built due to the successful collaboration and partnership that exists between two strong institutions, the James H Quillen VA and East Tennessee State University. Professional collaboration is a key component of our residency programs and one we believe sets us apart. Our program places an emphasis on fostering an environment of continued learning and knowledge sharing. Mentoring is not only a part of our program, but a guiding principle that we hope extends beyond the residency itself. Our faculty and mentors show the qualities of passion for service to our patient populations as well as a deep commitment to the profession of physical therapy. We view those involved in our residency programs as a professional family, and one we are excited about growing!

Mission, Vision and Goals

Mission Statement

To train licensed physical therapists for advanced specialty practice through cultivating highly skilled clinical specialist who integrate evidenced-based practice, contribute to clinical research, and provide service and education to their community to provide the best quality care for veterans and to impact the community with which the VA resides.


To utilize our residency training programs to better provide veterans the world-class benefits and services they have earned, and to do so by adhering to the highest standards of compassion, commitment, excellence, professionalism, integrity, accountability and stewardship.


1)    To meet and maintain all ABPTRFE stands for accreditation. 
2)    To support the mission of the James H. Quillen VA Physical Therapy Residency Programs by improving the quality of physical therapy practice within the VA and surrounding community.
3)    To graduate participants who obtain and hold board certification or fellowship status through the American Physical Therapy Association. 
4)    To graduate participants who continually contribute to the practice of physical therapy within their specialty area of practice.
5)    To graduate participants who demonstrate advanced clinical reasoning and skills within specialty area of physical therapy practice. 
6)    To graduate participants who contribute to the healthcare system through interdisciplinary and collegial collaboration.
7)    The program is operational and sustainable.

Core Faculty

Dr. Beau Whitt – Dr. Whitt graduated from East Tennessee State University with his doctorate in physical therapy in 2009 and began his tenure with the Department of Veterans Affairs at the James H. Quillen VA in 2010. He became board certified in Orthopaedic physical therapy in 2014 and together with a small team began development of the Orthopaedic physical therapy residency that is shared by the James H. Quillen VA and ETSU. Currently he is the physical therapy residency director for JHQVA, the site coordinator for clinical education (SCCE), curricular faculty and serves as a primary mentor in the Orthopaedic residency program. Dr. Whitt will be the director of the developing geriatric program that is planned to begin in 2023. He serves on the PT residency advancement committee within the Department of Veterans Affairs and is also clinical faculty within ETSU’s Fellowship program. In his spare time Dr. Whitt enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, being outdoors and all things sports related.

Dr. Jennifer Pearcy – Dr. Pearcy graduated from Quinnipiac University with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2016. She is a residency and fellowship trained physical therapist with ABPTS board certifications in both Orthopedic and Geriatric Physical Therapy. She completed her orthopedic residency training through the James H. Quillen VA partnership with ETSU as part of the inaugural cohort of residents. She then completed her fellowship training through ETSU’s Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship. Clinically, she is in the float physical therapist role and is the residency program coordinator for the developing geriatric physical therapy residency program. She currently serves as adjunct faculty for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at ETSU, core faculty for ETSU’s Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship, and Subject Matter Expert for Evidence in Motions Geriatric Certification Program.

Ryan Minick – Mr. Minick graduated from Western Carolina University in 2006 with a Master’s in physical therapy. He began his career at a private clinic in Charlotte NC before beginning his tenure with the Department of Veterans Affairs at the W.G. “Bill” Hefner Salisbury VA before transferring to the James H. Quillen VA in 2012. He became board certified in Orthopaedic physical therapy in 2012. Together with a small team he began development of the Orthopaedic physical therapy residency that is shared by the James H. Quillen VA and ETSU. Uniquely Mr. Minick also holds a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy. Currently he is a residency coordinator, curricular faculty, and serves as a primary mentor in the Orthopaedic residency program. He will be involved in the developing geriatric residency program. In his spare time, he remains loyal to all Pittsburg sports teams and running around to his kids’ school and sports activities.

Dr. Martin “Marty” Stern – Dr. Stern graduated from East Tennessee State University with his doctorate in physical therapy in 2017 and began his tenure with the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Sterling IL VA CBOC in 2018. As part of his role in a small, rural outpatient clinic, he was responsible for seeing a wide variety of cases to include patients with orthopedic, neurologic, geriatric, return-to-sport, and chronic pain conditions. Additional duties in this role included work as part of the departmental falls prevention committee and as part of the task force to increase usage of research-based outcomes measures. He became board certified in Geriatric physical therapy in 2021. Dr. Stern is also a 1st Lieutenant in the IL Army National Guard, where he is a platoon leader in an artillery battery with additional duties of executive officer (XO), Master Fitness trainer, and Unit Movement Officer. When not working, Dr. Stern can be found traveling, spending time with family and friends, exercising, or doing anything soccer related.

Dr. Michael Bourassa - Dr. Bourassa graduated from Elon University in 2010 with is doctorate in physical therapy. He became board certified in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy in 2014 following his residency through Brooks Rehabilitation in Jacksonville FL. He also is a fellow in the American academy of Orthopaedic manual physical therapists after completion of a fellowship in Orthopaedic manual physical therapy through Brooks Rehabilitation in 2014. Currently he serves as an assistant professor in the ETSU DPT program and is the program director for ETSU residency and fellowship programs. For the collaborative ETSU-VA program he is a co-director and oversees the ETSU side of the program. Dr. Bourassa maintains clinical appointments within the VA and ETSU health system. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching sports, and traveling.

Foundational Courses Core Orthopaedic Courses Core Geriatric Courses Special Topic Courses Research Clinical Gait Concepts Clinical Gait Concepts Evidence Based Acute Care Management Clinical Reasoning Pain Science Pain Science Mentoring Exercise Dosing Frontiers in Orthopaedic Science Cardiopulmonary System Teaching and Learning Motor Control Intervention Concepts Neuromuscular System Insurance 101 Patient Examination Advanced Concepts in management of the upper extremity Falls and Balance Exam Writing Patient Management Advanced Concepts in management of the lower extremity Pharmacology in Geriatric Practice Conference Attendance Pharmacology Advanced Concepts in management of the spine Wound Care Medbridge GCS prep course Imaging Special Populations in Geriatric Practice Red Flags Evidence Based Home Health Overview Wheelchair Seating Assessment
Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM Outpatient Clinic Inpatient Acute Clinic Inpatient Acute Clinic Outpatient Clinic Inpatient Acute Clinic Lunch 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM Mentored Outpatient Clinic Outpatient Clinic Residency Class (1-5) Inpatient Rehab Clinic Outpatient Clinic

How to Apply

All applications must be submitted through the RF-PTCAS system with the link available below. Applications are due by March 15th of each year. Interviews are required for acceptance into the program. They will be scheduled at the end of March or first week in April. Decisions on acceptance are completed no later than the end of April each year.


  • Be a United States Citizen. 
  • Graduation from a CAPTE accredited physical therapy program.
  • Proof of license or temporary license and in good standing to practice physical therapy in Tennessee.
  • Satisfy the pre-employment physical screen including a health screen and immunization record submission.  Including meeting the physical demands of a physical therapist.
  • Submission or application as described above via RF-PTCAS

Preferred Qualifications

•    Demonstrate a desire to serve veterans and/or are a veteran which may include experience within the VA healthcare system. 
•    History of academic achievement and recognition.
•    Interest in acquiring advanced skills in Geriatric physical therapy.  
•    Display superior communication skills

Work Life Balance

We believe in a work-life balance and while residency is demanding of time and effort, it is important to make time to ensure your physical and emotional wellbeing are also taken care of.

  • 13 paid days of annual leave
  • 11 paid federal holidays
  • 13 days separate sick leave available as needed
  • Annual Salary is set and not negotiable. Projected to be between $46,000-48,000 per year. 

Program Outcomes

Obtain candidacy status: August 2022

Start first geriatric PT resident: August 2023

Obtain accreditation through ABPTRFE: Spring 2024

Geriatric Certified Specialist Board Pass Rate: TBD

Post Residency Federal Employment: TBD