AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab Winter Park recently achieved the honor of having all of their physical therapists become OCS certified — meaning they are all Orthopedic Clinical Specialists. The OCS board certification formally recognizes physical therapists with advanced clinical knowledge, experience and skills in a specific area of practice.
Orthopedic Clinical Specialists are experts in evaluating and treating musculoskeletal conditions, a distinction that is shared by less than 5% of all physical therapists in the United States.
We recently spoke to one of our own board-certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialists, Doug Allen, Physical Therapist and Certified Athletic Trainer. He explains the significance of OCS certification, and what this honor means to our patients and community.
- What is the significance of becoming OCS certified?
Doug: It’s a voluntary process. An OCS therapist has raised their hand to study and take additional course work to prepare for an in-depth, rigorous exam testing our knowledge on clinical practice guidelines, best evidence of care and our understanding of orthopedic research. Per the APTA, it’s also a meaningful way to deepen our connection to our specific area of practice that we’re most inspired by. Going through the process helps you stay current with your advanced physical therapy (PT) practice in orthopedics. Being recognized as an OCS therapist identifies you as a lifelong learner and seeker of ever-expanding clinical evidence.
- How Common is OCS certification among PTs?
Doug: As of 2018, there were 461 OCS therapists in Florida. As of this year we have 25 OCS therapists within AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab team. We have Pediatric Specialists (PCS), Women’s Health/Pelvic Health Therapists (WCS), Geriatric Specialists (GCS), Neurological Specialists (NCS) and Sports Clinical Specialists (SCS). In total, we have over 40 board-certified therapists in our system.
- How does a physical therapist become OCS certified?
Doug: You need to pass a rigorous board exam in order to become certified. The exam is offered only once per year. The exam is a valid measure of a candidate’s knowledge, skills and ability.
After you pass your exam, there are requirements and documentation that we must maintain every year to maintain our certification. After 10 years, we take another exam to maintain our certification.
In order to sit for the exam, you need to have graduated from a residency program or have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in your specialty.
- What does it mean for patients to be able to see OCS therapists at AdventHealth?
Doug: There are only about 500 board-certified orthopedic therapists in Florida. To have 25 in our system is a testament to our culture and focus on clinical excellence. Therapists learn from each other and are inspired by one another to grow clinically in our skills and knowledge to deliver the most current and best evidence of care to our patients. We strive to give high-value care to every patient, which means getting the maximum improvement from their injury or surgical rehab with the least amount of cost to the patient and payer.
- What does it mean to you personally to have earned this designation?
Doug: Becoming an OCS is a huge accomplishment for each of us personally and also gives us confidence that we are working to provide each patient with the very best care. I am proud of the work that my colleagues and I have put into becoming OCS PTs because of the benefits our patients receive from advanced evaluation and treatment skills.
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