|LVC Faculty Secure Exclusive Physical Therapy Appointments
With the recent appointment of Dr. Robin Myers to the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Neurologic Specialty Council, Lebanon Valley College has become the only academic institution in the country to have two faculty members on the national boards/councils overseeing physical therapy residency, fellowship, and board certification development and credentialing.
LVC’s physical therapy program is six years in length. Its students receive a bachelor of health science and doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree upon completion before facing the national licensure exam allowing them to practice. From there, students can choose to go on to residencies lasting anywhere from nine to 18-months before pursuing optional fellowships. At different points in their career, licensed physical therapists have the opportunity to sit for board certification exams that would allow them to be named specialists in any of eight specialty areas.
The eight specialty areas in which physical therapists can become board certified are: cardiopulmonary, clinical electrophysiologic, geriatric, neurologic, orthopedic, pediatric, sports, and women’s health. Each area is overseen by a specialty council made up of three members appointed by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) which is the governing body that supervises these eight councils.
Dr. Myers, a clinical assistant professor of physical therapy at LVC, is the incoming chair of the Neurologic Specialty Council and will assume that role in December. When asked what past experience made her a prime candidate for the position, Dr. Myers said “About 10 years ago I developed the first physical therapy neurologic residency in the United States. Since then I’ve been involved with writing questions for the neurologic board certification exam and have remained active in neurologic physical therapy residency education, which is closely linked with the specialty council’s work to board certify physical therapists in this area.”
“In terms of what the role is of our specialty council – we oversee the exam for board certification in neurology,” Dr. Myers said. “We work closely with the National Board of Medical Examiners to not only fine-tune existing test questions but also to write new questions keeping the question bank full.”
Prior to coming to LVC in 2010, Dr. Myers worked as a full-time clinician and researcher at MossRehab near Philadelphia and taught as an adjunct professor in programs around the city. She currently sits on the Credentialing Services Council – the board responsible for credentialing physical therapy residencies and fellowships – while continuing to work part-time as a clinician.
Dr. Michael Fink, an assistant professor of physical therapy at LVC, is the other physical therapy faculty member who serves at the national level. He is currently one of the eleven members elected to serve a 4 year term on American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. Dr. Fink is the orthopedic specialty representative and Geriatric Specialty Council liaison on the ABPTS. The ABPTS is charged with managing all aspects of the physical therapy specialist certification and maintenance of certification processes.
Dr. Fink, who was an Air Force physical therapist for nearly 10 years prior to joining LVC, went through a sports medicine residency at West Point and then went on to became dual board-certified in sports and orthopedics. He initially became involved with the Sports Specialty Council as a question writer for the sports board exam and currently functions as the Clinical Content Expert reviewing all sports board exam questions. Dr. Fink also serves as a mentor and consultant to private practice orthopedic residency and fellowship programs right here in Central Pennsylvania as well as the military sports medicine residency program he graduated from and works as a part-time clinician in Harrisburg.
“The ABPTS is ultimately responsible for making sure the physical therapy board certification exams accurately test physical therapist’s knowledge in their respective specialty areas. Since the board certification exams should be very closely tied to the curriculum of residencies and fellowships, we at the ABPTS make sure there is consistency between what is being taught in residencies and fellowships and what is being tested at the board certification level.” Dr. Fink commented.
“Residencies and fellowship education is really starting to boom,” Dr. Myers said. “In the last decade, we’ve added many new residency and fellowship programs in a variety of specialty areas and now there are about 120 across the country.” Dr. Fink added “In fact, one of our own, Dr. Roger Nelson – professor emeritus faculty of LVC, was instrumental in developing the first accredited Clinical Electrodiagnosis residency in 2011.” “It is becoming very competitive to get these slots.” Dr. Myers continued. “Because of our involvement in residencies and fellowships, Mike and I can cultivate interest in our students to pursue these opportunities after graduation, answer their questions, and help them navigate the application process so they attain the highest level of knowledge in their chosen area of physical therapy.” “This will allow them to make the greatest impact possible in our profession.” said Dr. Fink.
So what does having two faculty members appointed to these boards mean for LVC? Dr. Myers and Dr. Fink are not only drawing national attention to Lebanon Valley College’s physical therapy program, but they are also preparing and encouraging students to become leaders in the field. Their positions are advantageous in that it allows them to foresee changes in the profession and gives students greater opportunity to be agents of change in the physical therapy workforce.
“By virtue of being in these positions, we interact with many physical therapy faculty and clinicians from across the nation.” Dr. Fink said. “We are really on the pulse of the profession – we gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead which we can then relay to our colleagues, students, and administrators back here at LVC.”
With last year’s reaccreditation of the physical therapy program at LVC and the appointments of both Dr. Fink and Dr. Myers to their respective roles in the ABPTS and APTA, the College has continued to strengthen its foothold among the top physical therapy schools in the country. “We are an extremely strong department and program. We have very high application rates with stronger and stronger PT applicant candidates every year,” Dr. Fink said. “We had our reaccreditation visit last April and earned an A+++, and that goes for 10 years! We were even highlighted on quite a few points by the accrediting body.”
Last year’s graduating class, Dr. Fink says, earned a 100 percent first-time pass rate for students taking the national physical therapy licensure exam. Many of these students have already gone on to residencies. “We are very proud of our students and truly expect them to be the leaders of physical therapy profession in years to come.” Dr. Fink said.