The Harris County Hospital District joins only one other public healthcare system in the nation to offer two post-professional physical therapy residency programs with the recent accreditation of the Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency by the American Physical Therapy Association.
The five-year accreditation from the American Physical Therapy Association for the Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency marks the second APTA-accredited program offered by the Harris County Hospital District. In 2008, the hospital district began a successful Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency.
Neurological physical therapy residents specialize in the evaluation and treatment of individuals with movement disorders resulting from disease or injury to the nervous system. This may involve treating patients with symptoms of weakness, difficulty walking, imbalance and dizziness associated with conditions like:
• Spinal cord injuries
• Brain injury
• Parkinson’s disease
• Guillain-Barre syndrome
• Vestibular disorders
The Harris County Hospital District began its efforts in post-professional residency programs to attract and retain physical therapists with advanced clinical specializations and elevate the level of care for patients.
“Our organization believes the return on investment in training our next generation of healthcare professionals is an important component to the future of healthcare in our country and to our system. It’s an innovative approach to providing our patients expert clinical care in the most cost-effective manner with better patient outcomes,” says George V. Masi, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Harris County Hospital District.
Currently, the majority of rehabilitation staff at the Harris County Hospital District maintain post-professional specializations and certifications with several attaining doctorate degrees.
For Carol Oddo, vice president, Operations Support and associate administrator, Harris County Hospital District, the selling point of residencies is the learning environment the programs create and the collaborations with stellar healthcare organizations — Baylor College of Medicine, the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation.
“We have created an environment where our staff is given opportunities to grow professionally and advance their clinical knowledge. This gives the Harris County Hospital District a competitive advantage to attract top talent and recruiting and retaining them to be a part of our system,” she says.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, physical therapists are in high demand. Employment of physical therapists is expected to increase 39 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for physical therapy services will come, in large part, from aging baby boomers who are living longer than previous generations.
Additionally, the profession will continue to serve a steady number of patients suffering nervous system injuries from car accidents, crime related injuries and stroke, Oddo says.
The Harris County Hospital District has plans to expand its post-professional residency programs to include specializations in geriatrics and wound care.