The mission of Harris Health’s Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program is to prepare practicing physical therapists with advanced patient management skills for a direct access environment. Graduates will be leaders in neuro-musculoskeletal examination, evaluation, diagnosis and intervention. Our program is designed to not only facilitate therapists who are experts in orthopedic physical therapy, but to also develop future leaders and mentors.

What sets us apart as a residency program:

  • Housed within the nation’s largest medical center and part of the largest medical teaching facility
  • Access and exposure to a wealth of different healthcare providers as well a diverse patient population spanning the continuum of orthopedics
  • First full-time residency program in the state and first orthopedic residency in Houston
  • Unique orthopedic curriculum including a strong emphasis on differential diagnosis, manual therapy, pain science, exercise prescription, and mentorship
  • Residents will get more than 150 hours of one-on-one mentorship along with more than 150 hours of classroom and lab instruction that augments daily practice in a dynamic, evidence-based setting
  • Extensive advanced credentials of teaching and mentoring faculty, including: FAAOMPT, OCS, SCS, PhD, and ScD
  • 96% first-time pass rate on the orthopedic board certification exam
  • Graduates of the Harris Health Orthopedic Residency have gone on to earn OCS and FAAOMPT designations, have become assistant and adjunct university professors as well as residency faculty, and they have also served in local, state, and national appointed positions.

The goals of Harris Health’s Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency Program are to:

  • Be nationally recognized as a leader in residency training in physical therapy
  • Graduate residents who contribute to the profession of physical therapy and the larger healthcare community through leadership, evidence-based practice, teaching and service
  • Graduate residents who will pursue board certification through American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) upon graduation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for a residency is a big life decision and there are many questions that need to be answered to make the right choice. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help you better understand Harris Health System’s orthopedic residency program.

What are the admission requirements? When are applications due? When does the program start?

See the Harris Health System ABPTRFE website for up to date application information.

How long is the residency?

The residency program is 12 months in duration.

How much is the tuition?

There is no tuition cost for the residency program. The resident is a full-time employee of Harris Health System and is paid 78% of an entry level staff therapist. Residents also are entitled to a full spectrum of exemplary benefits, including:

  • Comprehensive Medical Plan/HMO and Major Medical
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Plan
  • Pre-Tax Flex Accounts
  • Basic Life Insurance
  • Deferred Compensation Plans
  • Professional Liability Insurance

Is the resident’s salary substantial enough?

If you are a recent graduate, you probably have many concerns regarding salary and finances. The resident’s salary is 78% of an entry level staff therapist, which places Harris Health among the top paying orthopedic residencies in the country. In Houston, this salary is sufficient to live well and still maintain a social life. As for student loans, you may choose loan forbearance for one year during the residency program. Many residents have chosen this route and are steadily paying back their loans without the worry of a monthly payment.

How is the curriculum structured?

Units/modules include evidence guided practice, sports PT/exercise science, foundational science/primary care, lumbopelvic, lower quarter, cervical/thoracic, upper quarter, neurologic rehabilitation, and PT topics. In addition there is a general orientation at the beginning of the program, as well as a student module that occurs in the summer.

For more specific curriculum questions, please email the orthopedic program coordinator.

How is the interview process structured?

Harris Health has a two-day interview process. On the first day, candidates take a tour of the facility, learn important information regarding residency, have lunch with current residents, and watch faculty and residents treat patients. This day is very casual and allows candidates to gain a true understanding of a “day in the life” of a Harris Health resident. Day two is interview day. Candidates participate in two small interviews and one panel interview. The small group interviews are led by two or three faculty members who ask questions of the candidate. The panel interview consists of five to seven interviewers including the orthopedic residency coordinator, residency programs manager, and other influential Harris Health System Managers, as well as the most recent orthopedic and neurologic residency faculty members of the year. Each small group interview is about 20 minutes and the panel interview lasts 45 minutes.

Describe a typical work week

The majority of a resident’s work week is the same as a full-time clinician. The resident works ten hour shifts Monday through Thursday, and a five hour shift on Friday. This allows the resident to get maximal clinic time in order to utilize their new knowledge with their patients. A resident carries their own caseload and has productivity demands similar to a full-time clinician. The residents schedule differs from that of a typical new graduate in that they are assigned four to six hours of one-on- one mentorship each week, as well as weekly didactic coursework. As with any schedule, it is subject to change. Residents frequently take part in off-campus events such as journal clubs at the local physical therapy schools, lectures and other leadership events around the Houston area.

How does mentoring work?

The mentoring experience is what makes the residency unique. Residents spend between four to six hours a week working one-on- one with a mentor. Residents switch mentors every 10-12 weeks to learn different skills and see different practice styles. Essentially, the mentor watches the mentee treat a patient and provides critical feedback on how to become a more efficient and expert practitioner. Aside from improving treatment style, the mentors also help advance the residents manual techniques.

Will you become a clinical instructor?

Yes! The Harris Health Orthopedic Residency Program is continually trying to advance the profession of physical therapy and foster its future. The program wants each resident to have the knowledge and skills to teach future students. Becoming a clinical instructor places the resident in a situation where he or she can grow as a clinician. Residents will become a certified clinical instructor and will be a clinical instructor to a PT student towards the end of the residency (all didactic material will have been covered at this point). During this time, the resident also receives mentorship on how to improve their clinical teaching skills.

What type of patients do you see most?

You will be exposed to all musculoskeletal regions during your time at Harris Health System. Lumbar spine, knee, and shoulder are our most commonly evaluated body regions. We see a large number of orthopedic postoperative patients when at LBJ Hospital. The majority of the post operative patients that come to Quentin Mease are polytrauma patients due to our proximity to the level 1 trauma center at Ben Taub Hospital. Due to the complexity of the patient population (chronic pain, multiple comorbidities), past residents say that after treating for one year at Harris Health, you can treat anyone, anywhere!

Things to consider before applying

Residents work with patients who often do not have insurance. Residents see many individuals with chronic pain and multiple comorbidities. Additionally, 56% of the population is Hispanic. Interpreters are frequently used during treatment sessions to provide the best care possible. Finally, it is a tough year that will challenge you, change your practice, and develop your clinical skills far beyond what you can imagine. Harris Health is specifically looking for passionate individuals who desire to give back to the community and the profession of physical therapy.

Are new graduates considered?

Yes, new graduates are encouraged to apply.


Words from our residents about why they chose Harris Health.

  • "The clinic atmosphere is great. There are so many advanced clinicians constantly testing your skills. It is a relatively young clinic, with many people in their late 20s to early 30s, so we hang out together too."
  • "The mentorship. When else do you get to spend one-on-one time with a fellowship-trained, specialized therapist solely focusing on improving your skills?"
  • "The daily experiences. If one of my patients does not show up, there are always two to three clinicians available to answer questions or practice skills."
  • "The opportunities! The Harris Health residency allows you to get involved in local physical therapy schools, the APTA and TPTA, become a certified instructor, and much more."
  • "Evidenced-guided practice with every patient interaction"

For additional information, please contact:

Sarah K. Worth, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Orthopedic Residency Program Coordinator