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James H. Quillen VA Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency

This Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency is currently in candidacy status and seeking full accreditation by spring of 2025. We will enroll our initial cohort August of 2024 to join our accredited Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency. The Geriatric PT 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 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

James H Quillen VA Geriatric Residency’s mission is to provide a quality advance education to geriatric physical therapists who will provide the highest quality of care to patients through the promotion of evidence-based clinical practice, clinical research, and professionalism within the field of geriatric physical therapy. The program will demonstrate growth, continuous improvement, and strategic initiatives.


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. Maintain accreditation with American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education as a Geriatric Residency Program.

2. Provide education and mentoring to help residents gain the knowledge, skills, and effective behaviors of Board-Certified Specialists.

3. To support the mission and core values of the United States Department of Veterans. Affairs and the James H. Quillen VA Healthcare System, to improve the quality of geriatric physical therapy provided to Veterans.

4. To provide residents the opportunity to practice in the area of geriatric physical therapy.

5. Program and the participants will contribute to and positively impact the Veterans Health Administration through interdisciplinary and collegial interactions.

6. The program is operational and sustainable.

7. The program will demonstrate continuous program improvement.

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 7:45 AM to 11:45 AM Outpatient Clinic CLC Outpatient Outpatient Clinic Acute Lunch 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM Acute Mentored CLC Acute Residency Class CLC

How to Apply

All applications must be submitted through the RF-PTCAS system with the link available below. After inaugural year applications will be dur by March 1st of each year. Interviews are required for acceptance into the program. They will be held via video conference and scheduled in the middle to end of March. Decisions on acceptance are completed no later than the first week of April each year.

Residency Requirements

  • This program is 12 months in length and prepares the resident for clinical practice in geriatric physical therapy. Resident must meet both the didactic and clinical standards to complete the residency program. Successful completion of the residency qualifies the resident to sit for the board certification exam in geriatrics administered by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists (ABPTS).

Program Required Qualifications (change from Requirements)

  • Graduate from a CAPTE accredited physical therapy program.
  • Proof of license, eligibility of license or compact license in good standing to practice physical therapy in Tennessee.
  • Eligible for employment as a physical therapist within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Proof of all vaccinations required by Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Submission of current resume or CV.
  • Submission of personal letter of intent.
  • Submission of three professional letters of recommendation.
  • Applicants must provide most recent transcripts from all graduate programs attended.
  • Applicant must provide proof of active membership in the APTA and recommended membership in both the designated specialty and federal academy.

Applicant Preferred Qualifications

  • Additional educational background including certifications, continuing education, and physical therapy related education.
  • Clinical education, work and/or mentorship experience in geriatric physical therapy and or the VA system.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Potential to contribute to the field of physical therapy and specifically geriatrics.
  • Strong commitment to learning.

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. Currently set at $52,764 per year.

Program Outcomes

Obtain Candidacy Status: Achieved June May 2024

Start First Geriatric PT Resident: August 2024

Obtain accreditation through ABPTRFE: Spring 2025

Geriatric Certified Specialist Board Pass Rate: TBD

Post Residency Federal Employment: TBD