What does it mean to be a “Fellow” of Manual Therapy?

Becoming a Fellow in Manual Therapy was the achievement of a lifetime for me. I dreamed of becoming one ever since I heard of Manual Therapy in June of 1986. My fellowship has allowed me to study and be mentored by some of the finest clinicians of the world, training at the highest possible level. This achievement means very much to me because I need to know in my heart that I have done everything I can physically, mentally and emotionally to ease of the suffering of others.

A fellowship can be undertaken on a full-time or part time basis. In order to continue working and seeing patients, I chose the part-time path, which took just under three years to complete. Eighteen classes and multiple oral, written and practical examinations are required components of the program. Two cases seen during mentorship hours had to be defended and explained in a process called the live patient exam. My program requires 440 hours in a clinic with a faculty member in order to earn the right to become a fellow.

My mentors are the founders of the Manual Therapy Institute (MTI) program: Pieter Kroon and Tim Kruchowsky. I also greatly admire and often study the work of Dr. Darel Hurbert, Dr. Lauri Hartmann, Dr. Stanley Paris, Jill Cook, Jeremy Lewis, and Sherly Sahrmann.

A fellowship in manual therapy entails training in some very advanced techniques that can greatly improve a patient’s condition. As an example, I am now able to use something called grade 5 techniques. Very simply put, grade 5 techniques are employed to take a patient safely just beyond their limitations to increase range of motion. Thanks to the many hours spent studying and practicing, my level of clinical reasoning has advanced to the point where I am able to solve or help with many difficult cases where previously I might have not been able to go any further.

I think patients should be aware of the credentials and treatment style of the therapist that they choose. Understanding the process and the research-based skills of their provider can assist their choices and even aid in their recovery. Manual medicine is still in its infancy in the United States and not widely understood by the general public. As practitioners, it’s our job to educate others about the many advantages this type of medicine offers. A fellowship-trained therapist gives people with difficult problems a better chance to have their conditions improved.

My favorite thing about my fellowship experience has been studying with therapists and providers who are at the highest level in their field. It has allowed me to develop my skills and study in areas that I never thought would be possible for me.