Riverside Health Intensive Residency Program Trains Sports Physical Therapists

April 03, 2024
Alvin Varghese standing in front of riverside sports lab sign

Riverside Health's Sports Physical Therapy Residency — one of only five such programs in the state — is growing more competitive, thanks to its unique opportunities for mentorship and hands-on training within a comprehensive Sports Medicine program.  

Each year, the intensive 12-month residency accepts one graduate of a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program. That resident rotates through a variety of settings, including athletic fields, acute-care medical clinics, orthopedic surgery practices and rehabilitation centers.

The goal is to prepare residents to sit for the Sports Clinical Specialist Exam administered by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).

“As specialization becomes more popular in physical therapy, we want Riverside to be a leader in developing clinicians of the highest quality,” says John LaRue, Sports PT and Performance Director at RHS. “We have all of the resources needed to take on that role.”

This year’s resident, Alvin Varghese, DPT, was the first external candidate selected for the program. Following an extensive application and interview process, Varghese arrived in January and will finish his residency in December.

“The different opportunities and experiences here already have been great,” says Varghese, 30, an Oklahoma native who hopes to work for a professional sports team in the future. “I’m learning a lot and gaining very helpful new perspectives.”

While residents are mainly based at RHS’ Sports PT clinic in Newport News, they also round with Riverside physicians and alternate between several of the 27 high school, college and semi-professional teams in the area that partner with RHS athletic trainers for care.

Varghese, for example, has been working at Grafton High School in York County and will move to Lionsbridge FC, a Newport News-based soccer team, in April or May. He will spend time with two more to-be-determined programs by the end of his residency.  

Initally launched in 2016, the Sports PT residency restarted in January 2023 following a brief hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic; it recently gained ABPTS accreditation through 2032. LaRue would eventually like to begin each year in August rather than January, which would be better timing for many graduates of PT doctorate programs.

“We’re excited to now be fielding interest from talented candidates both inside and outside of Riverside,” he notes. “That’s a testament to all the valuable skills and lessons we have to teach.”