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Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program

The JAHVH Physical Therapy Department offers a Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program that is accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) since 2012.

Neurologic Residency Overview

James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital (JAHVH) is located in Tampa, Florida and provides comprehensive services to more than 121,000 Veterans. We are one of the largest VA hospitals and one of five Polytrauma facilities in the nation.

The JAHVH Physical Therapy Department offers a Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program that is accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) since 2012. This exciting and innovative program is designed to offer the recently licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy an opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills in the area of neurologic specialty practice in preparation for Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS) examination through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).

Residents are employed full-time by the JAHVA for the year long program and thus must be U.S. citizens. Clinical training consists of managing a caseload of patients with Neurologic involvement, mentoring sessions with highly experienced clinical staff (2 to 4 hours/week), as well as a didactic curriculum and NCS Prep component. Clinical training opportunities/rotations exist within the following clinical areas: Acute Care Medical/Surgical/ ICU, Polytrauma/Traumatic Brain Injury, Neurologic Gait and Balance, Spinal Cord Injury, Vestibular and Post Concussion Clinic and an optional Pediatric rotation. Residents will also have opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary patient rounds, journal clubs, in-service/poster presentations, scholarly activity, and mentoring doctoral students.

JAHVH Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency has a 100% Program graduation rate and 97% NCS pass rate.

Mission Statement, Goals, Objectives

Mission Statement:

The program prepares qualified physical therapists for neurologic specialty practice who provide exceptional healthcare for those who they serve. The faculty cultivates highly skilled independent clinical specialists utilizing diverse clinical experiences, meaningful mentorship, and comprehensive didactic education. This leads to the development of clinicians who are critical consumers of evidence-based research, consider the whole person, value teaching & learning, and uphold the program’s core values.

Program Goals:

  1. To recruit and passionately mentor residents equipping them to deliver exemplary specialty rehabilitative care for those they serve.
  1. Critically assess and appraise the cur-rent literature and integrate the latest relevant evidence into advanced practice.
  1.  Exhibit the skills and knowledge to be competent mentors, instructors and advocates of neurologic physical therapy practice.
  1. To provide opportunities through direct patient care and specialty observation for residents to excel in neurologic practice for a diverse patient population and within a variety of practice settings.
  1. To graduate caring and compassionate residents who are prepared and com-mitted to pursue and obtain board-certification through ABPTS.
  1. The program maintains ‘good standing’ and full ABPTRFE accreditation.
  1. The program will maintain financial stability and program sustainability.

Program Objectives:

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities described in the current ABPTRFE Description of Residency Practice (DRP) in neurologic physical therapy. Perform patient examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and clinical reasoning consistent with advanced level neurologic physical therapy practice.
  2. Demonstrate skills necessary to locate and critically review the current scientific literature and the ability to consistently and appropriately apply and integrate current neurologic physical therapy evidence into patient care.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to self-reflect and collect ongoing assessment/input from self and others to use as a tool for professional growth and ongoing development.
  4. Demonstrate effective interpersonal and communication skills (written and oral) to communicate information pertinent to patient management and facilitate coordination of care with interdisciplinary team members, while demonstrating the highest level of professional behavior and integrity.
  5. Be prepared to sit for and successfully pass the ABPTS board certification examination following satisfactory completion of the residency.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to clearly explain and model neurologic physical therapy and patient management principles to interns, colleagues, peers and other healthcare professionals.



The program’s didactic curriculum is primarily based on the APTA Neurologic section’s Description of Specialty Practice (DSP) which integrates didactic learning activities from the Neurologic Certification Prep section of MedBridge, journal clubs, NCS reviews, lunch and learns, case studies and assigned webinars.

Clinical mentoring will occur weekly with faculty in each of the clinical practice settings which include but are not limited to Acute Care Medical/Surgical/ICU, Polytrauma/TBI, Neurologic Gait and Balance, Spinal Cord Injury, and Vestibular. It is estimated that approximately 30-32 hours a week will be dedicated to clinical practice with the remaining hours available for educational experiences such as journal clubs, scholarly activity, teaching opportunities, interprofessional experiences, observation in specialty clinics, and mentoring doctoral physical therapy students.


Varied and dependent on the clinical setting. Formal clinical mentoring will be performed weekly with direct resident supervision, assistance, and feedback to enhance clinical practice for an average of 3 hours a week.

Scholarly Activity

A scholarly activity in the form of contribution to the physical therapy evidence will be performed by each resident. Examples include but are not limited to case studies, case series, literature reviews, or program development strategies. The scholarly activity will consist of a written paper and a poster presentation given during a formal hospital-wide annual Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Research Day. Opportunities to publish or submission for conference poster presentations will be given as needed/desired by individual residents.

Journal Clubs

Each resident will be responsible for participation in monthly journal clubs. These department-wide meetings are opportunities for residents to explore current evidence and develop case-based presentations. These will be presented to the resident faulty, mentors, and staff for development of case-based critical literature appraisal and public speaking skills.

 Lunch and Learns

Each resident will be responsible for participation and leading biweekly lunch and learn discussions. These meetings are performed in conjunction with the online learning assigned in MedBridge, webinars and case studies to facilitate discussion for examination, evaluation, differential diagnosis, and treatment of various neurologic specific topics.

How to Apply

US citizen

Applicant must have a degree from CAPTE accredited program

Successful/satisfactorily completed National Physical Therapy Examination

Applicant must obtain PT license prior to beginning the program (may be obtained from any state). A temporary license is sufficient to begin the program but the applicant must obtain their permanent license while in the program.

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.

Application Procedures

If you have or will meet requirements prior to residency start date you may apply using the APTA Residency/Fellowship Physical Therapist Centralized Application Services (RF-PTCAS). Should you have any other questions please contact the program coordinator, Dr. Sarah Weaving at or Residency Director, Dr. Amy Firestone at

Neurologic Faculty

Our Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Faculty includes a passionate group of specialized clinicians who take pride in sharing their knowledge and expertise with residents.

Amy Firestone,  DPT, SCCE, Residency Program Director, PT Supervisor received a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of South Florida in 2006 and joined on with the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital as a staff physical therapist immediately following her graduation.  She went on to complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Temple University in 2010.  Her clinical experience has included: Polytrauma/TBI, acute care, spinal cord injury, inpatient rehabilitation, orthopedics, and locomotor training.  Dr. Firestone has served as a Neurologic PT residency faculty member since its establishment in 2012 and has been a clinical specialist in locomotor training since 2013.  In 2016 she became the Site Coordinator of Clinical Education (SCCE) and Orthopedic & Neurologic Residency Program Director for the physical therapy department. She continues to serve at the JAHVH in these manners in addition to other duties including being a PT Supervisor, Chair of the Hospital Affiliations Committee, and a member of the hospital education committee. She also serves as an adjunct faculty and member of the Curriculum Committee at the University of South Florida School of Physical Therapy.

Dr. Sarah Weaving, PT, DPT, NCS, Neurologic Residency Coordinator  obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of North Florida in 2013. She completed the James A. Haley VA Neurologic Residency Program in 2014 and became a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy. Dr. Weaving has been a faculty member of Neurologic Residency Program since returning to the James A. Haley VA in 2015. In addition to being the Neurologic Residency Coordinator, she also serves as a mentor in the Vestibular and Post-Concussion Clinic. Dr. Weaving was named Neurologic Mentor of the Year in 2018 and 2021.