From the minute I heard about the opportunity to do a sports physical therapy residency, I knew that it was my next step.  For so many reasons (the beach not being one of them), I was ready and excited to pack my bags and move to the Midwest.  Some of those reasons were based on truth, while some of those reasons were also based on myths.

I always have students ask me about residency. When they ask questions, I notice that they share some of the same myths about residency that I did.

Let’s look at the five most common myths I encountered while completing a physical therapy residency…


1.  Residency gives you expertise.

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I chose to do a residency was to become an expert in sports physical therapy.  However, residency ended up exposing everything I didn’t know. After the first year of residency, I felt farther from becoming an expert than when I started.  But, that is what it was designed to do.

I said in my very first post, that if I had not done a residency- I would have been average, but I would not have known.  So, while residency did not make me an expert, it did give me a better understanding of what it takes to get there. It put me on the path to excellence and helped me navigate the territory to becoming an expert.


2.  Residency mentoring picks up where PT school left off.

I wish I was joking when I say that I was surprised when my residency mentor had a different schedule than I did.  You mean I’m on my own??  I laugh now when I think about how I was surprised by this.  But, in reality, I thought that residency would be somewhat of a continuation of my clinical education.

Residency may not be as structured as PT school or a clinical, but it does offer a lot of support.  The curriculum and mentoring is designed to fill in gaps between PT school and entry level practice while furthering your skills and clinical reasoning.  My mentors did not know all of my patients, but they knew the ones that were more complex or unfamiliar.  You are autonomous, but not alone


3.  Residency challenges you clinically.

Well, yes, residency does challenge you clinically, but I’d argue that the clinical challenges were the easiest.  Residency challenged my clinical reasoning, but it also forced me to face fears, step outside my comfort zone, and experience new things.

For me, the clinical skills I acquired are the least impactful thing I developed after doing a residency.  I’ve overcome more than I thought possible, pushed past limits, and developed both professionally and personally.  I feel that I am a stronger person and as a result a stronger therapist because of residency.


4. Residency lasts ~ one year.

Most residencies are between one year and a year and a half.  They have a distinct ending point, but their influence is enduring.  The relationships that you build, the skills you harness, and its impact does not end after the residency is over.

The people I met and the things I learned laid the foundation that I continue to build upon years after.  While the curriculum is short, a residency’s impact never ends.


5. Everyone should do a residency.

At first, when people asked me if they should do a residency my resounding “YES” was almost instantaneous.  But, not anymore! I never considered the person asking me the question. For me, residency was a great decision, but I don’t think it is the right decision for everyone.

Everyone should not do a residency, but everyone that does a residency should have a well-defined reason for doing one.  Improving skills or getting a clinical specialty will not get you through the long hours, high expectations, or challenging workload.  If you ask a residency graduate the most meaningful thing they got out of residency, you’ll get tons of better reasons than to get better.


Doing a residency was the best decision I made for myself and my career, but that does not mean it is for everyone.  There are so many ways to create the career you want and doing a residency is only one of those ways.  But, if you are considering a sports residency ProRehab and University of Evansville has the best one (I may or may not be biased :)).

Will you be applying?

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