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Physical Therapy Residency in Orthopedics Program

VA Palo Alto received approval from the VA Office of Academic Affiliations to offer a post-professional physical therapy residency in orthopedics.

VA Palo Alto’s orthopedic residency is one of the more unique residencies in the nation. Half of our residency is focused on primary care physical therapy (co-located with physicians and same-day clinic (urgent care type setting / emergency room), and the other half is focused on the outpatient orthopedic setting.

Within the residency, we offer a medical screening/primary care course and dry needling courses (level 1 and 2). In addition, residents will receive mentorship from physicians and other residency-trained mentors. They will have the capability of practice on top of their license in terms of ordering imaging, being trained in musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasound, and working closely with other medical providers.

Program highlights

  • Primary care physical therapy training (Ability to practice direct access while co-located with physicians, PAs, nursing, with ability to order imaging and truly manage MSK conditions)
  • Mentorship in multiple settings (Primary care, outpatient ortho, urgent care, emergency department, acute care)
  • Courses offered during residency (Primary care PT training, dry needling level 1 and 2)
  • Training to regularly utilize MSK ultrasound
  • Develop and teach didactic curriculum for Palo Alto internship program (3-5 student physical therapists)
  • Provide education at Samuel Merritt University DPT Program
  • Receive dedicated mentorship in leadership (how to create system-wide changes)

Program outcomes

2 out of 2 residents have graduated the program at 100%.

Meet our faculty

Russell “Rusty” Bishop PT, Program Director

Dr. Rusty Bishop is a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedics with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree who graduated from Samuel Merritt University in 2011.

Upon graduation, he first attended the Kaiser PNF residency program followed by serving in the United States Air Force as a captain and physical therapist, primarily working to develop and teach in a direct-access, residency-style internship program.

He brought this internship model to VA Palo Alto where he now has been a clinical instructor for over 90 students in a direct-access setting. Last, year he led the development and accreditation of the VA Palo Alto orthopedic residency, which is the first VA to focus on training residents to practice in a primary care setting co-located with physicians, PAs, nursing, along mental health. Along with developing internship and residency programs he has spearheaded the first national VA dry needling program, helping to provide cost-effective training nationally in the federal system.

Recently, he has developed the first VA Primary Care Physical Therapy Training Course to assist PTs with improving medical screening, differential diagnosis, clinical reasoning, imaging considerations, and acute management as frontline providers. He is very passionate about mentoring in the clinical setting and has been an adjunct faculty member at Samuel Merritt University for 8 years helping to develop and teach the medical screening material. He currently resides in Santa Cruz, CA, where he enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 sons.

Dan Nguyen, PT, DPT, OCS, Residency Coordinator

Dr. Dan Nguyen is a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedics with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree who graduated from Samuel Merritt University in 2020.

After graduating, he attended an orthopedic residency at Mountain Home VA in Tennessee. Here, he further developed his clinical reasoning in both an inpatient and outpatient orthopedic setting. Additionally, he spent time teaching Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students at East Tennessee State University their orthopedic musculoskeletal courses. Upon returning to Palo Alto VA, he worked with Dr. Bishop to develop the orthopedic residency.

Dr. Nguyen is passionate about DPT and residency education, and firmly believes that clinical education is paramount in improving our profession. In his free time, he enjoys traveling the world, running half marathons, and baking new recipes.

For more information, contact:

Russell Bishop, PT, DPT
Director, VA Palo Alto PT Residency in Orthopedics
831-884-1000 ext. 42298