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Division I Sports Physical Therapy Fellowship

Our Mission and Goals

The mission of the Duke Division I Sports Physical Therapy Fellowship is to provide an in-depth and immersive experience in the sports medicine management of DI student athletes & active individuals. This is highlighted by the daily management of the defined subspecialty, Intercollegiate Division I Athletics.

The successful graduate who by virtue of their critical thinking ability, clinical skills, relevant experience, diagnostic competence and ethical standards will be committed to promoting the optimum health and function of their clients and will serve the larger society and profession through leadership, teaching, administration and research.

We have set the following goals for our fellows to help us achieve our mission:

  • Appropriately and efficiently manage sports-related injuries/illnesses of active individuals with acute or chronic injuries and/or surgery through return to play
  • Capably teach other physical therapists as well as physicians, athletic trainers, coaches, student athletes and parents the fundamentals of injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of the DI student athlete while also being active learners themselves
  • Work and communicate effectively and proficiently with an interdisciplinary team of medical and non-medical staff in the management of individuals with sports injuries
  • Understand and navigate special considerations and dynamics regarding DI student-athlete care and management (i.e. musculoskeletal, medical, psychosocial, departmental, institutional, etc)
  • Become a leader in managing change and improving healthcare systems for active individuals, DI student athletes and staff
  • Critically evaluate, apply and produce quality research in sports physical therapy

What Makes Our Program Unique

Duke’s Division I Sports Physical Therapy Fellowship is the first credentialed APTA post-professional sports fellowship program in the nation for physical therapists after beginning our program in 1999.

Throughout the year, the sports physical therapy fellow will interact with board-certified orthopedic and sports physical therapists, certified athletic trainers, and specialists in orthopedic surgery, primary care, radiology, sports performance, research, behavioral health, exercise physiology and nutrition.

You will have the opportunity to work with all 27 of Duke’s DI varsity sports in our state-of-the-art facilities. In addition to direct student-athlete care, you will attend practices, competition events, sports performance sessions, and occasional team/coaches/department meetings when appropriate. You will gain experience in understanding and utilization of sports science technology, measures and data as it relates to teams and/or individuals. You will be versed in managing complicated situations as it relates to student-athlete care in a DI setting.

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to interact with other PT fellows and residents matriculating through 10 additional programs within Duke Health Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. You will also interact closely with Duke Sports Medicine orthopedic and primary care physician fellows. This all takes place on the beautiful campus of Duke University and Duke University Health System and with access to all the opportunities and experiences Duke provides.

Highlights of Our Program

Our fellow receives a minimum of 200 hours of sports physical therapy coverage at Duke athletic venues/events while also having a minimum of 1,500 hours of sports medicine clinical practice. During that time, you will receive mentoring by experienced and board-certified sports physical therapy specialists as you manage your own caseload of patients.

Along with these experiences, there are also further learning opportunities including:

  • Weekly didactic programming
  • Weekly interdisciplinary sports medicine conferences
  • Weekly journal clubs
  • Monthly inter-residency/fellowship teleconferences
  • Monthly leadership discussions with the Duke Sports Physical Therapy resident and other practitioners
  • Monthly primary care conferences
  • Team physician clinic observations
  • Sports physician surgical observations
  • Arthroscopy cadaver labs
  • Research opportunities and conference presentations

How to Apply

Anyone with a strong desire to work in sports physical therapy should apply. Applicants must be a licensed physical therapist, have a current CPR certification and possess at least one of the following: a current ATC designation, a current license as an EMT, or certification as an Emergency Responder. You must also have either completed a physical therapy residency or be board certified in a physical therapy specialty.

Applications open October 1st, 2023. Interested individuals can fill out an application via RF-PTCAS to apply.  All applications for the 2024 – 2025 residency are due by December 1, 2023. The fellowship will run for one year from mid-July.

Duke University Division I Athletics
27 Intercollegiate Varsity Sports

Financial Information

Click here to see the ABPTRFE Program Financial Fact Sheet for this program.