About Us

Program Overview and History

The U.S. Army/Baylor University Orthopedic Physician Assistant Residency and doctoral program is an 18-month program of subspecialty rotations, formal didactic instruction, and clinical research. This residency prepares Physician Assistants with the knowledge and expertise to provide evidence-based medicine to a full spectrum of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. The graduates examine, interpret labs and images, diagnose, and develop goal-oriented treatment plans for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. They also first-assist in surgery and manage patients perioperatively. As part of this management, residents perform orthopedic procedures that include but are not limited to: administration of local and regional anesthetics, therapeutic and diagnostic joint injection, musculoskeletal ultrasound, fracture fluoroscopy, fracture reduction and management, wound closure/suturing, graft preparation, complex wound debridement, perioperative wound care, skeletal traction, hardware removal, and external fixation. Unlike certificate programs, our graduates also participate in clinical research and get exposed to research design and methodology. The capstone requirement for the residency is presentation of an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved research project to a board panel that includes faculty of the residency program and Baylor University. Residents are required to submit a manuscript to a journal and produce a poster for display of their project as part of their requirements.

The development of the Orthopedic Physician Assistant (OPA) profession in Army Medicine began in response to Medical Corps (MC) personnel shortages in both U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) in the late 1980s. The Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG) approved the program in 1989 and extended it to an 18-month doctoral program in 2007. In FORSCOM, OPAs were specifically utilized to extend Orthopedic Surgeon’s capabilities in Combat Support Hospitals (CSHs) and Forward Surgical Teams (FSTs) to increase access to orthopedic care on the battlefield. In MEDCOM, they also improved access to orthopedic care in the garrison environment by increasing staffing to Orthopedic Surgery Clinics in the U.S. Army Medical Centers (MEDCENs) and other Medical Department Activities (MEDDACs) to include Army Community Hospitals.

This residency is associated with the Army Medical Specialist Corps Long Term Health Education and Training (LTHET) and specialty training board. This message describes application requirements and procedure for LTHET.

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