What is fellowship training?

Physical therapy as a profession has continued to advance over the last 30 years and now requires a minimum of a doctorate-level education to be licensed. If a therapist wants to pursue further training beyond the doctorate level education there are quite a few options that exist. These options range from weekend-type courses for continued education to extensive accredited specialty training programs such as residencies and fellowships. This blog today is to describe what a Fellowship is in regards to physical therapy training. 

Fellowship Training for PTs

By definition, fellowship training is a post-professional training program designed for licensed physical therapists seeking advanced training in orthopedic physical therapy. To qualify for a fellowship program, a clinical fellowship candidate has either completed a residency program in a related specialty area or is an American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties board-certified specialist in a related area of specialty. After completing a residency and/or becoming a board-certified specialist, a therapist may then continue with fellowship training which expands beyond the specialization in orthopedics and combines opportunities for ongoing clinical mentoring with a theoretical basis for developing in a subspecialty area of practice. The goal of a fellowship is to truly develop from a specialist to a clinical expert in their field. 

Goals for Fellowship programs

Although every fellowship has its unique qualities, the primary goal of most fellowship programs is to provide advanced training in orthopedic physical therapy and the management of complex cases via guided training that places a large emphasis on clinical reasoning, evidence-based practice, practice and theory in physical therapy education and a research experience. Each program has its timeline and design to meet the established criteria, with most programs running between 1 year and 5 years long. Although there is variety between programs, all accredited programs have to meet certain criteria which include multiple series of classroom education, 150 hours or more of mentored clinical practice, and most have a clear emphasis on mastering clinical practice, research, and/or education.

In summary, fellowship training is post-professional training that facilitates the development of expert-level skills and clinical decision-making. After completing an accredited fellowship, the therapist will be credentialed as a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT) and they represent the highest level of recognized clinical training in the field of physical therapy. 


  1. https://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/sites/pthms/our-programs/residencies/fellowship-orthopaedic-pt.html
  2. https://abptrfe.apta.org/for-participants
  3. https://www.orthopt.org/content/special-interest-groups/residency-fellowship/current-and-aspiring-residents-fellows/what-is-the-difference-between-residency-and-fellowship


Trenton Rehman is a Wisconsin native, growing up in West Bend and attending West Bend East high school. Trenton went on to attend Marquette University, where he graduated with two Degrees from Marquette University, including a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Physiology and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. During his time in the Doctorate program, Trenton was awarded the Daniel Strelnick award for his assertiveness, communication, and leadership skills in the clinic. After earning his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, Trenton went on to complete an Orthopedic Residency through UW-Health and Meriter, where he underwent advanced training to further his manual skills and clinical knowledge in orthopedics.