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PT Neurological Residency Overview

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Neurologic Physical Therapy (PT) Residency Program partners with Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital (PRH) at Delray Medical Center and Memorial Rehabilitation Institute to provide a comprehensive residency curriculum. A clinical residency program is a post-professional learning experience in a focused area of PT practice. The NSU Neurologic PT Residency Program is designed to advance the physical therapist's knowledge, skills, and attributes in neurologic clinical practice. The program combines opportunities for one-on-one clinical mentoring and didactic coursework based on the American Physical Therapy Association’s Description of Residency Practice in Neurology.  Learning experiences include collaborative patient care experiences, didactic courses focused on contemporary management of people affected by neurological disorders, scientific inquiry, evidence-based projects, and integration of principles of teaching/learning in physical therapy.  It is a 12 month program where residents are physical therapy employees at the clinical partner and are actively involved in teaching/lab assisting in the professional DPT curriculum at NSU.


Congratulations to Dr. Rania Massad, winner of the 2021 FPTA Neurology SIG Outstanding Educator Award. This award recognizes a physical therapist who has devoted their time, knowledge, and expertise to developing and guiding current and future clinicians in the specialty of neurologic physical therapy. This is accomplished by demonstrating a positive impact in the professional development of physical therapists toward neurologic physical therapy and exhibiting a desire to further neurologic physical therapy through advocation of evidence-based research, effective inter-professional communication, development of educational courses/opportunities, and personal/professional development. Dr. Massad teaches in the neurological curriculum of the professional DPT program, mentors entry-level students during Integrated Clinical Education (ICE) experiences with patients who have neurological disorders, and is the coordinator of the NSU Neurological Residency Program. Congratulations, Dr. Massad!


The 12 month residency program will begin in August/September. The resident must successfully complete all residency requirements to be eligible to apply for the ABPTS Neurologic Specialist exam. The resident will apply for the specialty exam during the last moth of the residency program and will sit for the exam in following March. 

Academic Coursework: Coursework is provided in a self-directed, continuing education format with courses delivered predominately online using Blackboard. The resident will complete a total of 7 courses focusing on content based on the Description of Specialty Practice (DSP) in neurology.  Courses are between 12 and 21 weeks long and the resident will take 2-3 courses per trimester. Residents can expect to spend an average of at least 5 hours per week on didactic coursework for a total of at least 260 hours during the 12 month residency. See below for an outline of the didactic curriculum. Additional didactic experiences will be assigned on an individual basis as needed.

  • PTCE 0050   Fundamentals of Neurologic Specialty Practice
  • PTCE 0051   Evidence-Based Practice and Outcome Measurement in Expert Practice
  • PTCE 0062   Professional Roles in Expert Practice
  • PTCE 0060   Contemporary Management of Central Nervous System Injury
  • PTCE 0061   Contemporary Management of Degenerative/Demyelinating Diseases
  • PTCE 0071   Special Topics in Neurorehabilitation
  • PTCE 0072   Independent Study: Research Project

Clinical Practice: Residents will be employed 32 hours per week at Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital and are expected to carry a full patient caseload consisting of neurologically impaired patients. Clinical mentorship is provided by residency program faculty, at least 3 hours per week. Clinical mentoring may include collaborative patient care and discussion of patient cases between mentor and resident.  

  • Minimum of 1500 hours over 12 months of which 150 are mentored hours
  • 32 hours per week independent clinical practice of which 3 are mentored hours

Teaching/Scholarship:  Residents are expected to participate in teaching/instruction of basic neurologic skills for entry-level physical therapy students at NSU as part of their academic coursework. Residents are also responsible for providing physical therapy related education to peers and staff at the hospital. Residents will complete a scholarly project such as a pilot research study, clinical case report or faculty driven research project in the area of neurologic physical therapy which may be presented and/or published in a peer reviewed format.

  • Total of 100 hours of teaching responsibilities over 12 months

Evaluation of Learning

Resident learning will be evaluated using a variety of methods including:

  • Multiple choice tests/quizzes
  • Completion of case studies
  • Research article critique/analysis
  • Practical examinations to evaluate clinical skills
  • Completion of a research project/case report  
  • Feedback from clinical mentors

Requirements for Successful Completion of the Program

Requirements for successful completion of the neurological residency program include:

  • The resident will consistently meet or exceed standards required for employment at Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital during the residency program.
  • Resident must complete a minimum of 1,500 hours in direct patient care with patients with neurological diagnoses
  • Resident must successfully complete all courses with an 80% or better, including written and live patient practical examinations
  • The resident will pass a final comprehensive written exam at the end of the program with an 80% or better.
  • Resident must complete a scholarly project with plan for dissemination

Minimum requirements for eligibility:

  • Currently hold or be eligible for physical therapy licensure in the state of Florida1
  • Graduated from a CAPTE accredited physical therapy program2
  • Must be eligible for employment at Pinecrest Rehab Hospital
  • Submit a complete RFPTCAS application by published deadline
  • Participate in an interview with admissions committee (for selected candidates)
  • Must have access to a computer which will support required components of Blackboard (ie. Javascript, cookies, Java Runtime Environment)

1Prospective residents who will be new graduates at the start of the residency program may apply for acceptance to the neurologic residency program pending sitting for the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), however, admission to and participation in the residency program will be contingent on obtaining FL licensure.

2New graduates (defined as a physical therapists practicing in the clinic for less than 1 year) applying to the neurological residency program will need to provide transcripts to demonstrate a high level of academic achievement. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 or above in entry-level PT coursework is preferred.  

Preferred attributes include:

  • Completion of at least 1 clinical internship in a primarily neurological setting
  • Exhibit leadership qualities, effective communication skills and evidence of motivation, accountability and self-directed behavior
  • Display strong written and oral communication skills
  • Effective use of critical thinking in clinical situations using sound rationale for choices
  • Demonstrate experience participating in research (ie. case reports, faculty guided research, data collection, data analysis, etc.)
  • Evidence of high academic achievement (for new graduates)
  • Membership to the APTA and American Academy of Neurologic PT

Application Process:

All candidates must apply through the Residency and Fellowship Physical Therapy Centralized Application System (RFPTCS) 


Graduation Rate 
Ultimate NCS Board Pass Rate 
2018-2019 100% 100%
2017-2018 100% 100%
2016-2017 100% 100%
2015-2016 100% 100%
2014-2015 100% 100%



Rania Margonis, PT

Neurologic Residency Coordinator


Shilpa Gaikwad, PT, MPT, PhD


Donna Tadena, PT, NCS


Jennifer Canbek, PT, PhD, NCS



Kim Smith, PT, DPT, NCS


Anna Castaneda, PT, DPT




Jessica Zanon, PT, DPT

Hello, my name is Jess and I am originally from Arvada, CO. I got my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science from Colorado State University and then went on to receive my DPT from Boston University. I am very active and love to spend my time outside, whether it be at the beach, hiking, or playing golf. I also love to spend time with my dog, Ace. I was drawn to the neurologic population in physical therapy because of the challenge and complexity with which these patients present. I love that I never see two patients who are exactly the same and I value the growth and progress I see with my patients every day! 







Alexandra Adams PT, DPT 

Hi, I’m Ali! I recently moved to South Florida for Nova’s neurologic residency program, and I’ve been loving exploring this beautiful area! I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and attended Georgia State University for both undergraduate and PT school. My decision to pursue a career in physical therapy was influenced by my mom who is also a physical therapist. Growing up around the profession developed my passion at a young age for helping others. I then became interested in the neuro specialty through experiences at the Shepherd Center, clinical rotations, and during our neuro coursework in school. I have a special interest in brain and spinal cord injury patients and am excited to learn and grow as a clinician with these populations throughout residency. When I’m not working or studying,  I love exercising, adventuring through the outdoors, and eating ALL types of yummy food. I can’t wait to continue to explore the Fort Lauderdale area over this next year!




2019-2020 Graduates


 Christina Cyprien, PT, DPT


Tamika Hawkins, PT, DPT


Franline Destin, PT, DPT  

2018-2019 Graduates

Jason Berlongieri, PT, DPT

Laurianne Dib, PT, DPT

Syeda Ahmed, PT, DPT, CSCS


Pictured L-R: Rania Margonis, Residency Coordinator; Jason Berlongieri, Graduate; Laurianne Dib, Graduate; Syeda Ahmed, Graduate; Melissa Tovin, Residency Director

2017-2018 Graduate

Paul Colbert, PT, DPT


2016-2017 Graduate

Breanna Holliday, PT, DPT, NCS


Pictured L-R: Melissa Tovin, , Residency Dir NSU; Breanna Holliday, Graduate; Jennifer Canbek, Neuro Residency Coord.

2015-2016 Graduate 

Kara Scnake, PT, DPT, NCS


Pictured L-R: Kara Schnake, Graduate; Graduate; Jennifer Canbek, Residency Dir NSU

2014-2015 Graduates

Donna Tadena, PT, NCS

Jennifer Lombardi, PT, DPT, NCS


Pictured L-R: Cheri Archer-Silveria, Administrative Dir. PRH; Teressa Dykeman-Diaz, Rehab Dir. PRH; Donna Tadena, Graduate; Jennifer Lombardi, Graduate; Jennifer Canbek, Residency Dir NSU


Apply Now

Nova Southeastern University Post-Professional Physical Therapy Residency Programs comply with applicable federal, state, and local regulations including non-discrimination, privacy, confidentiality policies, and equal opportunity and affirmative action laws, orders, and regulations. NSU admits residents of any race, color, religion or creed, sex, pregnancy, national or ethnic origin, nondisqualifying disability, age, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, military service, veteran status, political beliefs or affiliations. 

Visit the Residency and Fellowship Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (RFPTCAS) to apply.

*Note: Admissions and enrollment decisions are made on a rolling basis.   

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