UM-Flint Pediatric Residency Program Earns Accreditation

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Dr. Susannah Steele, PT, DPT, PCS, works with a child at the Pediatric Rehabilitation Center-Commonwealth in Ann Arbor.
Dr. Susannah Steele, PT, DPT, PCS, works with a child at the Pediatric Rehabilitation Center-Commonwealth in Ann Arbor.

The University of Michigan-Flint Pediatric Residency Program has earned accreditation from a national industry group, making it the first in the state and only 16th in the country to receive the designation.

UM-Flint received the distinction from the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency & Fellowship Education.

The university accepted its first-ever resident in the program in the fall of 2013.

Carol Daly—PT, DPT, PCS, a Lecturer III, and Coordinator of the Pediatric Physical Therapy Post-professional Programs at UM-Flint—said the designation will raise awareness about the program.

"Accreditation of our program means that we meet the highest quality standards for residency education and as such our program will be attractive to pediatric physical therapists in Michigan, as well as pediatric physical therapists across the country," Daly said.

The accreditation measures a bevy of program attributes, Daly said, including the amount of time residents spend doing clinical work, and variation among the types of patients they treat.

The program includes five graduate level courses that are taught online by UM-Flint faculty.

"These courses are designed to bridge the entry level DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) program to the knowledge needed for advanced practice in pediatric physical therapy," Daly said. "The coursework compliments the clinical practice experience that the resident obtains at the clinical site and also prepares the resident to sit for the rigorous pediatric clinical specialist exam."

The program leverages the resources of the University of Michigan system, with the resident doing one year of clinical work at three sites within the University of Michigan Hospital and Health System. The resident has clinical mentors at each site.

The resident also gets early childhood and school-based experience due to a partnership between the program and Pediatric Therapy Associates in Ann Arbor. The program focuses on honing the resident's research and teaching skills too, Daly said, with residents contributing to the pediatric courses at UM-Flint.

The program currently has one resident per year.

Dr. Risha Kotecha, PT, DPT, is the current resident. She earned her DPT from the Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota before moving back to her native state for her residency.

Kotecha said the combination of UM-Flint classes and clinical work in Ann Arbor has honed her skills. She's done outpatient work at Briarwood Milestones, inpatient at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, and now more outpatient experience, at Pediatric Rehabilitation Center-Commonwealth.

The classes, Kotecha said, have deepened her knowledge on diseases and disorders, how to complete a thorough examination, how to develop a plan of care for the patients, and much more.

"The combination of those two (classes and clinical work) is very helpful in shaping me as a good physical therapist," she said.

The flexibility of the classes and faculty have enabled her to balance the two elements of the residency.

"UM-Flint has been so helpful. They are so good at communicating with me. They are very helpful, even though we don't live in the same city."

The university is exploring its options for expanding the program and the accreditation will give this idea a boost, Daly said.

"We are extremely proud of this accomplishment! And, we look forward to fully taking our place in physical therapy residency education on a national arena going forward."

PHOTO: Dr. Susannah Steele, PT, DPT, PCS, works with a child at the Pediatric Rehabilitation Center-Commonwealth in Ann Arbor. Steele serves as a mentor for UM-Flint's Pediatric Residency Program.

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