Mercer University-Shepherd Center Residency in Neurologic Physical Therapy

The application is available on RF-PTCAS and is open from October - January each year.

Mercer University and the Shepherd Center offer an advanced clinical training program in neurologic physical therapy. This 13-month residency is accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) and provides advanced, intensive clinical education and training in the management of adults with the following neurologic disorders:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Balance and vestibular disorders
  • Other neuromuscular diseases

The clinical practice opportunities extend across the continuum of care, including Shepherd Center's intensive care unit, inpatient rehabilitation, and outpatient and day program services.

  • Accelerates expertise of the Client Management Model within evaluation, prognosis, intervention, and management of patients with neurologic dysfunction
  • Combines contemporary, evidence-based coursework with highly individualized, advanced clinical mentoring under the supervision of experienced clinicians
  • Provides clinical focus of study and preparation for neurological specialist certification exam
  • Residency education is the "fast track" to clinical specialization
  • Teaching and research opportunities
  • As a center of excellence for neurologic practice, research, and education, Shepherd Center's residency program allows Shepherd Center and Mercer to improve the professional development and clinical practice for our patients through development of advanced practice clinicians
  • Provides additional evidence-based practice education opportunities for staff
  • Collaboration between local universities and health care facilities
  • Development of mentor and leader positions
  • Recruitment, retention, and professional development in neurologic physical therapy
  • Recognized within the medical model
  • Mentored growth vs. trial and error
  • Refines and increases depth of clinical practice area
  • Research contribution to evidence-based practice
  • Model for professional growth and development through the consumption and analysis of scientific literature, immediate application of science and theory for improved learning
  • Develops practitioners with advanced neurologic clinical skills
  • Increases the number of physical therapists with advanced knowledge in the area of neurologic physical therapy
  • Aligns with the APTA's Vision 2020 in which physical therapy services are provided by specialists in a practice area
  • Provides opportunities for clinical research collaboration with universities
  • Increases the quality and consistency of care for patients with neurologic diagnoses
  • 13-month program
  • 1500 hours of clinical practice across continuum of care and all programs
  • 150 hours of mentoring
  • 150 hours of didactic/laboratory coursework
  • 90 hours of self-directed learning
  • 30 hours of service-learning
  • 30 hours of teaching
  • Resident's case report, case series, research project or other
  • Advanced Education:
    • Foundations in Neurologic PT
    • Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Patient Assessment Instrument (IRF-PAI) credentialing
    • Behavior De-Escalation Training
    • Neurologic Physical Therapy Professional Education Consortium Webinars
    • Locomotor Training
    • Pain Sciences course
    • Foundations in Musculoskeletal Science
    • Clinical Instructor credentialing
    • Practice management health care policy and professional issues
    • Diagnosis-specific lectures and labs
  • Specialty observations and clinical practice hours in:
  • Application

"Participating in the Mercer-Shepherd Center Neurologic Residency presented me with a wealth of opportunities for professional growth over the 13-month program and set the foundation for continued development in my practice. I was able to gain experience working with a variety of patient populations in acute and post-acute settings, which enhanced my clinical reasoning across the continuum of care. The exceptional mentors in this world-renowned facility supported me in advancing my hands-on skills and critical thinking, and working with experts from multiple disciplines in the field of rehabilitation enhanced my interprofessional communication and collaboration. I had the unique experience of being able to apply a variety of technologies to patient care and also learn about the most recent advances in evidence-based practice due to Shepherd Center's commitment to ongoing research. The accomplished Mercer faculty offered guidance and feedback through both teaching and didactic learning opportunities. Both the clinical and academic mentors in this program are fully invested in providing an optimal programmatic experience for clinical development. Residency programs are valuable for progressing the physical therapy profession and the expertise of clinicians. I firmly believe that completing the Mercer-Shepherd residency shaped my career and made me more proficient when working with patients with neurologic impairments in any setting, as well as preparing me to provide mentorship to others in the future."
- Rachael Frank, 2018-2019 Resident in Neurologic Physical Therapy

"I am so thankful for the experiences I have gained through the Mercer University-Shepherd Center Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency. The lessons and memories have changed me both as a therapist and as a person. My didactic and clinical knowledge of neurologic diagnoses significantly grew over the 13-month program after having the opportunity to work full-time in both inpatient and outpatient patient programs. The mentorship provided, both directly from the clinical mentors and by surrounding staff, was invaluable in my development as a clinician. The environment at the Shepherd Center is very much driven towards clinical excellence with all staff striving to go above and beyond for each patient, which is an incredible model to learn within. All staff are eager to collaborate and support each other, which only enhances the physical therapy residency experience. The program directors were also very willing to take my clinical interest into consideration in order to build a program tailored towards my interests as well as fully preparing me to become a specialist and expert clinician. The partnership with Mercer University also provides further opportunities for research, collaboration, didactic learning, teaching, and mentorship with expert clinicians. Because of this residency, I now hold myself to a higher standard of practice and am eager to continually reflect and continually learn throughout my career. I am confident that I have gained experiences that will enable me to serve patients well and create positive change within organizations wherever my career leads me. I firmly believe that physical therapy residencies further our profession, and I am unbelievably thankful for this residency in positively shaping my career from the start."
- Andrew Teare-Ketter, 2019-2020 Resident in Neurologic Physical Therapy

"This residency program is a great opportunity to develop advanced-practice clinicians here at Shepherd Center and for the healthcare community."
Lauren Greenfeld, DPT, Acquired Brain Injury, Shepherd Center

"Shepherd Center is proud to offer a program that will advance the physical therapist's skills in providing patient care in the area of neurological rehabilitation."
Sarah Morrison, PT, Director of Spinal Cord Injury Program, Shepherd Center

"The depth of current resident Sarah Caston's study and experience will assist her in becoming an advanced, evidence-based practitioner and a thoughtful consumer of evidence in clinical practice."
Deborah Backus, Ph.D., PT, Associate Director of Spinal Cord Injury Research, Shepherd Center

"What an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself into the latest treatments and research of neurologic injury. Being hands-on in all phases of recovery is a great way to learn and make a positive impact on people's lives."
Lauren Nieves, PT, Spinal Cord Injury Day Program, Shepherd Center

"The Shepherd Center program provides a well-rounded opportunity for residents to gain knowledge and experience in a diverse setting. As a mentor, it has been an amazing opportunity to collaborate with the residents and develop their knowledge and skills. Helping to advance the practice of neurologic physical therapy and create more clinical specialists provides me with a sense of fulfillment."
- Sarah Heaton, PT, MSPT, NCS, Residency Mentor - Shepherd Pathways 

"As a previous graduate of a neurologic PT residency program, I highly value the mentorship process and the role it plays in the development of higher level clinical and self-reflection skills. The opportunity I now have to serve as a residency mentor for the Mercer-Shepherd Center Residency in Neurologic PT has been very rewarding. I enjoy the opportunity to help develop the next generation of clinical specialists in neurologic PT, as well as the personal challenge for myself to continue the teaching and learning process and furthering my clinical expertise."
- Daniel Schaeffer, PT, DPT, NCS, Residency Mentor - Day program spinal cord injury

  • Collaboration between Mercer University, one of the strongest PT schools in Georgia, and Shepherd Center, one of the Top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation, specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury
  • Opportunity for potential residents to become a part of the new model for clinical education
  • Opportunity to learn from Shepherd's diverse patient population
  • For more information, please read this article from Spinal Column, Shepherd Center's magazine
  • Or, visit the American Physical Therapy Association
  • Application
  • Atlanta is a world-class, modern city with a rich, passionate history and much to offer. For more information on Atlanta, visit
  • Application

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