Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist

Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist

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Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist

Have you ever wondered what all those acronyms mean behind your therapist’s name? Well for as much schooling as therapists receive, they still continue to learn and develop through their years of practice. Being a physical or occupational therapist is a life long learning career. There are new advances in medicine, technology is always changing, and there is ongoing research to validate evidence- based approach to care. There is a lot to keep up with in our medical world these days.

Therapists seek special certifications to help build on their foundation of clinical practice to develop a greater depth of knowledge and skills in a particular area. There are many different areas a therapist can specialize in including, but not limited to, Orthopaedics, Geriatrics, Neurology, Pediatrics, Sports, Women’s Health, Hands, and more. Here are a few definitions of the acronyms you will see behind OSI therapists’ names:


ATR/L-Athletic Trainer

CHT-Certified Hand Therapist

COMT-Certified Orthopedic Manual/Manipulative Therapist

CSCS-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

DPT-Physical Therapist (Doctoral Degree)

FAAOMPTFellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual PT

MPT-Physical Therapist (Master’s Degree)

OCS-Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist

OTR/L-Occupational Therapist

PT-Physical Therapist (Bachelor’s Degree)

SCS-Sports Clinical Specialist


Most often certifications require a certain number of hours in clinical practice and taking as much as 1-year to prepare for and pass a grueling exam to test their knowledge and skill level. Beyond just a certification, therapists can also take on a residency or fellowship program to further their skills.

A residency is most often attended immediately after school (which now a days is a doctorate for physical therapy and a masters for occupational therapy) and is a 1-year program. During this time resident therapists learns side-by-side with an experienced therapist with the focus of how to gain skills in clinical reasoning, manual skills, and more.

A fellowship is accomplished by an experienced clinician attending a program who has a minimum of 1-year of mentoring and training from lead therapists within the industry. The focus is to gain high-level evidence based clinical reasoning and clinical/manual techniques. No matter which path the clinician takes, all are very grueling and taken seriously by our profession, as it requires elite therapists to advance themselves beyond the general practicing clinician.

Despite having many different specialty areas a therapist can specialize in, today I am going to discuss specifically the Orthopaedic Clinic Specialist (OCS). It is pertinent timing for this as OSI Physical Therapy just had 4 physical therapists, Tony O’Bright, DPT, OCS; Peter Larson, DPT, OCS; Mike Brown, DPT, OCS, CSCS; and Nate DeBruin, PT, OCS, who met all the requirements to sit and yes pass the intensive OCS exam! In addition to these 4 passing the OCS, OSI recently had 2 physical therapists, Amy Prose, PT, OCS and Shari Walters, PT, OCS renew their OCS. We are very proud of these 6 clinicians for their recent accomplishments!

To help you better understand what it takes to achieve and renew the OCS, I will give you a little more information. In 1981 the American Physical Therapy Association approved the board certification for orthopaedics known as Orthopaedics Clinical Specialist (OCS). As of 2014, the American Physical Therapy Board certified 9,505 (which there are more than 90,000 practicing therapist) therapists across the country. In order to apply for the OCS, a therapist must have a minimum of 2,000 hours of direct patient care within their specialty area or they have completed a 1-year residency. It takes approximately 8 months to study and prepare for the exam.

To recertify for the OCS, the physical therapist has 10 years of experience with the OCS and must either sit for the re-exam or create a Professional Development Portfolio. The portfolio requires the therapist to track their professional development activities specifically related to their area of specialty. They are required to have a minimum of 200 hours/year of direct clinical practice within orthopaedics.

OSI Physical Therapy takes pride in the level of expertise all our therapists have. For the past 35 years OSI has provided excellent care to our customers. We continue to focus on the Triple Aim (better outcomes, lower total cost of care, and excellent customer experience). We recognize the importance of helping our staff achieve high levels of expertise within their field. We have a goal by 2018 that 75% of all our therapists will have completed a specialty certification, residency, or fellowship. I am proud to say today we have over 50% of our staff that have accomplished this or are in the process of accomplishing this goal.

I thank all our clinicians for their passion and drive to be the best in the business. To learn more about physical or occupational therapy, here are a few recommended sites:








– Jody Ruppert, CEO

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Jody Ruppert

Jody Ruppert

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