A physical therapy clinical residency is a planned program of postprofessional clinical and didactic education, designed to advance a resident’s expertise in the management of patients and clients in a defined area of clinical practice. In 1997, a five-member Committee on Clinical Residency Program Credentialing was established by APTA’s Board of Directors to develop and oversee a credentialing process for postprofessional physical therapy clinical residencies.
In 1999 the committee credentialed the first residency program, for advanced orthopedic manual therapy at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, in Los Angeles, California.
The following year, the purpose of the committee was expanded to include fellowship programs, which entail even narrower and more advanced areas study. In August 2009 the five-member committee transitioned to a seven-member board, called the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education — ABPTRFE. The program further evolved in 2014 when credentialing was succeeded by accreditation, to align with best practices of residency and fellowship education. In December 2018, ABPTRFE expanded to 10 people including 2 public members. By 2019, ABPTRFE had accredited 288 residencies and 53 fellowships, and graduated more than 6,600 PTs from those programs.