Is Physical Therapy Residency Worth Doing?

When it comes to advancing your career in physical therapy, the decision to pursue a residency can be daunting. With fewer than 2% of physical therapists in the USA choosing this path, compared to 90% of physicians, it’s natural to wonder: Is physical therapy residency worth it?

Understanding the Discrepancy

In the medical field, residency is a well-established expectation following medical school. This intensive training period, typically lasting four years, comes with demanding work hours and relatively low pay. So why do so many physicians opt for it?

  1. Deep Knowledge and Skills: Residency provides an unparalleled opportunity to develop specialized knowledge and skills.
  2. Board Certification: For physicians, residency is the only path to board certification, a crucial credential for career advancement.
  3. Increased Earning Potential: Post-residency, physicians often see a significant boost in their earning potential.

The PT Perspective

In contrast, physical therapists face a different landscape. Despite the well-documented benefits of residency training in enhancing knowledge and clinical skills, the financial incentives are less clear. Consequently, 98% of PTs choose to skip residency. However, this trend may be shifting as new opportunities emerge.

Emerging Opportunities for PT Residents

Innovative residency programs are beginning to offer compelling reasons for physical therapists to consider this path. Here are some exciting developments:

  1. Financial Rewards: Some residency programs now offer pay structures that can be up to 50% higher than traditional PT salaries.
  2. Entrepreneurial Ventures: Residency graduates are finding opportunities to develop new programs and business ventures.
  3. Leadership and Teaching Roles: With their advanced training, residency grads are being recruited for leadership positions and adjunct teaching roles.
  4. Schedule Flexibility: Many forward-thinking organizations provide flexible schedules, allowing PTs to focus on their passions and maintain a better work-life balance.

The Future of Physical Therapy Residency

Although the general field of physical therapy has yet to fully catch up with the physician model, there are promising signs that the tide is turning. PTs with residency-level expertise are uniquely positioned to lead a new era in healthcare. Their advanced skills and knowledge make them ideal candidates for pioneering roles in the industry.

Making the Decision

So, is residency worth it for physical therapists? Consider the following:

  • Career Goals: If you aspire to take on specialized clinical roles, leadership positions, or academic appointments, residency can provide the necessary training and credentials.
  • Financial Considerations: While immediate financial incentives might be less apparent, the long-term potential for higher earnings and career advancement is growing.
  • Personal Development: Residency offers an intense period of professional growth, helping you to become a more skilled and confident practitioner.


As the field of physical therapy continues to evolve, the benefits of residency training are becoming more apparent. Those who pursue this path may find themselves at the forefront of new opportunities and innovations in healthcare. If you are passionate about advancing your career and are willing to invest in your professional development, residency could be a transformative step toward a rewarding future in physical therapy.

Are you ready to lead the way? Explore residency options and position yourself for the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. The decision is ultimately yours, but with the right mindset and commitment, the rewards can be substantial.

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