Recently we have been receiving several questions regarding continuing education credentials. What does it mean to have a COMT, OCS, FAAOMPT, etc... In this post I am going to break down the difference among several commonly seen advanced certifications.
Orthopedic Clinical Specialty (OCS):
Any "CS" credential means the clinician has earned a clinical specialty. For example, Chris and I recently passed our OCS examination so we are now Orthopedic Clinical Specialists. Brian passed his SCS so he is a Sports Clinical Specialist. You are eligible to sit for your Clinical Specialty Examination in one of two ways: 1. attend a residency program OR 2. demonstrate 2,000 hours of clinical work in the specialty area plus a few other criteria. (For more information follow the link HERE) The three of us chose to do the residency program. It is a quicker route to becoming a clinical specialist and a residency program gives you at least 150+ one-on-one mentoring hours. I would highly recommend this option to anyone who is looking to improve their clinical skills.
Certification in Orthopedic Manual Therapy (COMT):
Many clinicians choose to pursue a COMT prior to their fellowship in manual therapy training. Many programs follow a 1-year curriculum consisting of five or more weekend learning courses. For example, Chris and I recently partnered with OPTIM Physical Therapy to start a COMT program. Our program consists of 6 weekend courses with online didactic course work in between sessions. Each program has a different focus, but the ultimate goal is to become in expert in neuromuscular examination and manual therapy techniques. (To learn more about our program click HERE.
Fellowship of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (FAAOMPT):
If you are officially seeking alphabet soup behind your name, pursue the FAAOMPT credentials. It is one year of training, plus 440 one-on-one mentoring hours. To enter into a manual therapy fellowship, one must first either go through a pre-fellowship year or residency program. In this post, I am writing about manual therapy fellowships, but remember that there are fellowship programs across multiple specialty areas. Click the link HERE to learn more about fellowship programs.
So which speciality certification should you pursue? There is no perfect answer, but at least having awareness of the different options is a step in the right direction. My recommendation: look at the residency corner posts that we have made on this website and check different programs websites to gain a better understanding of which fits best with your current practice and lifestyle.
Like this post? Check out or insider access page to unlock even more information.
As with any exam, it's important to be aware of the type of material that you will be tested on along with the method of questioning. From my discussion with physical therapists that have passed the OCS and after reviewing the goal of OCS certification, it appears that a major component involves "evidence-based practice" applied to many case scenarios. Continue Reading...
James Heafner PT, DPT, OCS:
Owner and lead physical therapist at Heafner Health, cash-based physical therapy in Boulder, CO. Areas of expertise include orthopedic and manual therapy, functional movement, pain science, and movement science.
In May 2013, I earned my Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Saint Louis University. After graduating from the Harris Health Systems Orthopedic Residency in October 2014, I moved to Boulder, CO. Since living in Boulder, I have started my own cash-based PT practice, earned my OCS certification, and teach for the OPTIM Fellowship and COMT program in Houston TX and Scottsdale, AZ.
Chris Fox PT, DPT, OCS: Physical therapist at Foothills Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy in Scottsdale, AZ and regularly lectures at the Phoenix Campus for NAU's DPT program and for Optim Manual Therapy's COMT program. Completed multiple advanced manual therapy courses implementing aspects of biomechanical analysis. He received his DPT from Saint Louis University in 2013. Completed Scottsdale Healthcare's Orthopaedic Residency (now Honor Health) in July 2014. He became a Board Certified Orthopaedic Specialist in 2015. Level I Expert in FMS and SFMA , Kinetacore FDN Level 1 certification, and IASTM Technique course completion. He would like to pursue further education in McKenzie Technique, Dry Needling, Strength & Conditioning, Orthopaedic and Manual Therapy.
Brian Schwabe PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS:
- Board Certified Sports Physical Therapist (SCS) at Elite OrthoSport in Santa Monica, CA which specializes in treating collegiate/professional athletes and clientele from the Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and Santa Monica areas.
- USC Sports Residency Trained Physical Therapist (<1% of all PT's residency trained)
- DPT from Saint Louis University
- Future plans/interest include:
1. USAW, SFMA & Catapult Systems technology for NBA teams
2. Pursuing a position as a sports physical therapist &/or Strength coach for a Division 1 athletic medicine department or professional sport team.
|The Student Physical Therapist||
Always evolving, Always learning