Occupational Therapy Physical Rehabilitation Fellowship Program
The Occupational Therapy Department at the Veteran Affairs St. Louis Healthcare System (VASTLHCS) has developed a Fellowship Program to advance the knowledge and skills of Occupational Therapists interested in specializing in Physical Rehabilitation.
Why choose our Fellowship Program?
Higher level critical thinking skills will be fostered throughout the program with mentorship provided by Occupational Therapists with a variety of specialties in various settings related to Physical Rehabilitation. Curriculum modules will allow the Fellow to evaluate and provide treatment across different Occupational Therapy settings throughout the continuum of care with a diverse patient population. There will be opportunities for specialty clinical experiences, including, but not limited to driver’s rehabilitation, low vision, and mental health.
To develop an Occupational Therapy Practitioner with advanced-practice skills in the field of Physical Rehabilitation to facilitate improved health and quality of life for our Veteran population.
To improve the lives and well-being of our Veterans and their caregivers through development and cultivation of advanced practice Occupational Therapists, with an emphasis on current evidence and innovative treatments within Physical Rehabilitation.
Clinical training consists of managing a diverse caseload with acute and chronic conditions related to Physical Rehabilitation across our two campuses, that encompass various OT settings (acute care, SNF/acute rehab, outpatient, mental health, low vision, drivers rehabilitation). One-on-on mentoring sessions will be provided with specialized therapists in each setting, as well as didactic curriculum to improve clinical practice skills and promote advanced knowledge. Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in department-wide journal clubs, staff/student in-services and online CEUs.
The VHASTLHCS Physical Rehabilitation OT Fellowship Program will focus on the Fellow’s development of knowledge, competency, and advanced practice skills in the following core areas:
- Advanced Knowledge
- Reasoning and Performance Skill
- Ethical Practice
- Interpersonal Skills
- Scholarly and/or Professional Activities
Program Goals and Objectives
- Provide excellent evidence based Occupational Therapy care to our Veterans with an emphasis on Physical Rehabilitation
- Prepare Occupational Therapy practitioners to become Board-Certified clinical specialists in Physical Rehabilitation by advancing the practitioner’s knowledge and skilled training through evidenced-based practice
- Provide professional development opportunities to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service (PM&RS) staff within Extended Care Rehabilitation Service/Extended Care Service Line (ECRS/ECSL) to improve administration of evidence-based assessments and treatments in Physical Rehabilitation to improve Veteran outcomes and quality of life
- Uphold a quality Occupational Therapy Fellowship Program within the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System
- Integrate critical reasoning skills for clinical competence through the practice of Physical Rehabilitation
- Provide ethical and professional Occupational Therapy services
- Establish relationships, and/or networks, to retain Board Certified Occupational Therapists, within the VA Healthcare System.
Program Director: Alicia Stone, OTR/L
Principal Program Coordinator and Primary Mentor: Jacqueline Miller, MOTR/L, BCPR
Secondary Program Coordinator and Primary Mentor: Patricia Niewoehner, OTR/L, CDRS
Primary Mentors: Adam Manahan, OTD R/L, Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist; Patricia Noonan, OTR/L, Specialty Certification in Low Vision, Certified Low Vision Therapist; John Patrico, MOTR/L, Certified Lymphedema Specialist
**This Program is currently in the fellow application process through the American Occupational Therapy Association.
** Health Professions Trainees (HPTs) are appointed as temporary employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, HPTs are subject to laws, policies, and guidelines posted for VA staff members. There are infrequent times in which this guidance can change during a training year which may create new requirements or responsibilities for HPTs. If employment requirements change during the course of a training year, HPTs will be notified of the change and impact as soon as possible and options provided. The VA Training Director for your profession will provide you with the information you need to understand the requirement and reasons for the requirement in timely manner.
How to Apply
To apply please email Alicia.Stone3@va.gov the following documents by March 31st
- Completed Fellowship Program Application (see link below)
- One-page essay explaining why a fellowship is important to you and why you chose the VA as a fellowship site
- Two letters of reference (these should be included in your e-mail application submission and should not be sent separately)
- Copy of Valid OT license and NBCOT certificate OR proof of expected graduation date prior to the start of the fellowship and your scheduled NBCOT test date. (See FAQ’s if you have questions about your graduation date)
Fellows are employed full-time by the VHASTLHCS for the year-long program. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen that are a graduate of an ACOTE accredited occupational therapy (OT) program and possess a current OT license (from any state) prior to the program start date.
Applicants should be AOTA members and be committed to pursuing Board or Specialty Certification in the specialized area of practice.
The fellowship will be a paid position and the fellow will be eligible for health benefits, earn annual leave and sick leave, and have paid federal holidays. There are no tuition fees associated with this fellowship. Salary: $45,383
Interviews are typically conducted during the month of April.
The Fellowship Program is scheduled to start in August and end one year later.
Why should I do a fellowship rather than just finding a job I’m interested in?
A fellowship will provide post-professional training in a specialized area of practice. Participation in a fellowship will give the Fellow specific experiences and allow them to gain confidence delivering specialized OT services. It will combine didactics, mentorship, and clinical practice in the fellowship area in order to progress the Fellow towards becoming an advanced-level clinician. This can increase professional marketability in the future.
What experience is needed to apply for a fellowship?
No experience is needed. Experience will be gained through participation in the fellowship program. Applicants should have a strong interest in the fellowship program and applying for board or specialty certification after completion of the program.
Do I have to be a new grad to apply for a fellowship?
No. Any licensed Occupational Therapist can apply for a fellowship experience. While some applicants are newly licensed OTs, others have some basic experience, or are wanting to change practice areas. Most fellows typically have 0-5 years' experience.
What if my license is in another state?
The specific state you are licensed in doesn’t matter as long as you meet criteria to apply.
What happens after the year-long fellowship?
The fellow will be considered an experienced clinician in that specialty practice area. This will help when applying for jobs in a specialized practice area that requires experience. The fellow will also be eligible to apply for AOTA Board Certification after 2 years of practice rather than the 3 years that is required for non-fellowship participants.
Can I apply if I am not yet licensed or have not graduated OT school?
If you are not already licensed, you will need to have a license before you are able to begin the fellowship experience. You do not need to have a license to apply for the fellowship experience. However, acceptance will be contingent upon obtaining a license prior to the fellowship start date.
Will I get salary/benefits during the fellowship experience?
Yes, the Fellow will receive a stipend and health benefits, as well as accrue paid time off and have paid federal holidays.
Will the didactive work required for the fellowship be completed while at work or in the evenings/weekends after the workday?
There is time built into the fellow's weekly schedule to complete didactic work. However, on occasion, there may be work that must be completed outside of regular working hours.
Is housing provided?
No. The fellow will be responsible for finding their own housing. We will gladly provide recommendations/information about the surrounding areas, if needed.
What population will the fellow be working with?
The fellow will be working with veterans with a diverse range of acute and chronic diagnoses. They will provide care in various OT settings (acute care, SNF/acute rehab, outpatient, mental health, low vision, drivers rehabilitation). Ages of the population span across adulthood.
What diagnoses will I see?
The fellow will see clients with a variety of conditions including, but not limited to orthopedic, post-surgical, cardiac, neurologic, amputees, mental health, low vision, and other general medical conditions.