CSM 2019 was bustling with more than 16,500 PTs, PTAs and students. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center was packed with PT professionals wanting to progress their careers through educational sessions, networking and Academy/Section events. The halls were filled with conversations regarding our profession and there was one that seemed to be the loudest: the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) and their new policies.
Last month, I wrote about the ABPTRFE policies that are currently (and in the future) threatening residency and fellowship program growth and sustainability. During CSM, there were many meetings to discuss these policies in the hopes that someone from ABPTRFE would listen (not just hear) and more importantly do something. While at CSM, I learned that a manual therapy fellowship program has stopped taking on new cohorts of fellows-in-training and will shut their doors after they graduate their current fellows. This program was one of the first to be accredited by ABPTRFE – a program that has been in existence for over 10 years! A hand fellowship program director stated that they would have to shut their doors due to the policies set forth by ABPTRFE. Can you see a trend? Is this the future we want?
Surely ABPTRFE has listened and wanted to gain more insight on where programs are coming from, right? Not exactly.
To catch you up to speed on where we are currently with this scenario, the APTA has called for a task force to investigate the ABPTRFE policies that should convene this Spring, however there is no set date at this time. Both Julie Whitman and I have been pleading the case to halt the policies that went into effect Jan. 1 of this year while the task force investigates. This seems like a logical step given the uproar and consequences of these policies, however the message we have gotten from ABPTRFE is that these policies will stand as is.
At this point, we are seeing a board within our own profession slowly kill programs who want to make our profession stronger. In 2013, Kornelia Kulig presented the 18th John H.P. Maley Lecture with a talk titled, “Residency Education in Every Town: Is It Just So Simple?“. In her talk she states,
“How do we, as a professional community, continue to support the development of new residencies and the retention and growth of existing residencies? Our national organization is onboard; it provides the infrastructure for residency peer assessment and credentialing.”
It is time the APTA steps in further and stops the policies that threaten our programs. If the APTA is truly onboard with the retention and growth of existing programs, now is the time to do something about this.