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Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program

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

Orthopedic Residency Overview

The James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital (JAHVH) is located in Tampa, Florida and provides comprehensive services to more than 116,000 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 Orthopedic 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 orthopedic specialty practice in preparation for Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) examination and certification 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 Orthopedic involvement, mentoring sessions with highly experienced clinical staff (2 to 4 hours/week), as well as a didactic curriculum and OCS Prep component. Clinical training opportunities/rotations exist within the following clinical areas: Outpatient Orthopedics, Acute Care, Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program, Vestibular/Post-Concussion, Amputee, Pelvic Floor, Aquatics, Inpatient Rehab, and Cardiac Rehab.  Residents will also have opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary patient rounds, journal clubs, in-service/poster presentations, scholarly activity, and mentoring doctoral students.

JAHVH Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency has a 100% Program pass rate and 94% OCS pass rate.

Mission Statement, Goals, Objectives

Mission Statement:

The program prepares qualified physical therapists for orthopedic specialty practice to provide exceptional healthcare for those 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 consume 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

2) Critically assess and appraise the current literature and integrate the latest relevant evidence into advanced practice.

3) Exhibit the skills and knowledge to be competent mentors, instructors and advocates of orthopedic physical therapy practice.

4) To provide opportunities through direct patient care and specialty observation for residents to excel in orthopedic practice for a diverse patient population and within a variety of practice settings.

5) To graduate caring and compassionate residents who are prepared and committed to pursue and obtain board-certification through ABPTS.

6) The program maintains ‘good standing’ and full ABPTRFE accreditation.

7) The program will maintain financial stability and program sustainability.


The program’s didactic curriculum is primarily based on the APTA Orthopedic section’s Description of Residency Practice (DRP) which integrates didactic learning activities from the Orthopedic Certification Prep section of MedBridge and APTA Monographs.

Clinical mentoring will occur weekly (2-4 hours) with faculty in each of the clinical practice settings. 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. Clinical mentoring will be performed weekly( 2-4 hours) with direct resident supervision, assistance, and feedback to enhance clinical practice.

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 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 monthly 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 Orthopedic specific topics.

Program Outcomes:

Demonstrate advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities described in the current ABPTRFE Description of Residency Practice (DRP) in orthopedic physical therapy. Perform patient examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and clinical reasoning consistent with advanced level orthopedic physical therapy practice.

Demonstrate skills necessary to locate and critically review the current scientific literature and the ability to consistently and appropriately apply and integrate current orthopedic physical therapy evidence into patient care.

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.

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.

Be prepared to sit for and successfully pass the ABPTS board certification examination following satisfactory completion of the residency.

Demonstrate the ability to clearly explain and model orthopedic physical therapy and patient management principles to interns, colleagues, peers and other healthcare professionals.

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 coordinators, Dr. Alyssa Santos at, Dr. Richard Scafidi at or Residency Director, Dr. Amy Firestone at

Orthopedic Residency Faculty

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

Dr. 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. Alyssa Santos, PT, DPT, OCS, Orthopedic Residency Co-Coordinator, received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of South Florida in 2019. Dr Santos completed her Orthopedic physical therapy residency at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in 2020, officially earning her OCS in 2021. She continues to put her Orthopedic Specialty practice to use serving Veterans and mentoring residents in the outpatient physical therapy clinic. Outside of work she enjoys traveling, playing sports, participating in game nights, and hanging out with friends and family. 

Dr. Rich Scafidi, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC has been working with veterans at James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital since 2016. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2013 with a B.S in Athletic Training working with the football, baseball and men’s soccer teams. After undergrad Dr. Scafidi received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from University of Central Florida. After graduation, Dr. Scafidi did an Orthopedic physical therapy residency at James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, officially earning his OCS in 2018.  He continues to focus in orthopedics and chronic pain and serves predominately as an orthopedic specialist and mentor in the Outpatient PT facility. Outside of work, Dr. Scafidi enjoys traveling, exercising, outdoor activities and spending time with friends and family.


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