Top of Page
Skip main navigation

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 300 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 or Memorial Health System 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:

  • Residents will consistently meet or exceed standards required for employment at Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital during the residency program.
  • Residents must complete a minimum of 1,500 hours in direct patient care with patients with neurological diagnoses
  • Residents must successfully complete all courses with an 80% or better, including written and live patient practical examinations
  • Residents will complete a comprehensive exam
  • Residents 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 
2020-2021 100% 66.7% (reflects 2/3 residents first attempt)
2019-2020 100% 100%
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




Melinda Geisel, PT, DPT

Hey guys! My name is Melinda, and I am a Florida girl, born and raised. I studied Biology during my undergrad at University of North Florida and obtained my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from University of Central Florida this past May. Go Knights! I chose to pursue a career in physical therapy because I loved the relationships I built with my own physical therapists when I was recovering from softball injuries during my high school and collegiate career. It wasn’t until my 2nd year of PT school where I discovered my love and passion for working with the neurologic population. Many of these patients are going through the hardest and often most unexpected parts of their life and being a part of their journey as they gain back their independence is truly remarkable. I am so excited for all the knowledge and experiences I will gain throughout this next year! Outside of work and the residency, I love to eat delicious foods, spend time at the beach, and do anything that keeps me active including weightlifting, long boarding, cycling, or exploring new parks.



Shyra Dehner, PT, DPT

Hello everyone! My name is Shyra Dehner and I am originally from South Jersey. I completed
my undergraduate degree from Stockton University and my physical therapy doctoral degree
from Rutgers University. My passion for treating patients with neurological deficits started when
my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Watching her overcome every obstacle
through the power of physical therapy drove me to want to do the same for my patients. I
wanted to complete this residency program to increase my knowledge and give the best patient
care. I am so excited to learn and explore more with treating neurologically involved patients
and helping them gain their independence while growing as a clinician. Another passion of mine
is traveling and exercising. I love to travel and explore new areas, different cultures, and foods. I
also love the beach and am so excited to be on the East Coast of Florida and swimming back in
the ocean. This experience is a once in a life-time opportunity and I get to complete this
amazing program in paradise. I am looking forward to meeting new people, gaining new
knowledge, and exploring new areas.




2020-2021 Graduates 


Jessica Zanon, PT, DPT


Alexandra Adams PT, DPT 

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.   

Return to top of page