5 Tips to pass the OCS from an OCS

I remember being a newly graduated PT, and what an awesome experience to to treat and make such a lasting impact on the patient I regularly encountered. However, I also knew that as great a foundation as my PT program had provided, I desired to become one of the best. I wanted to be seen as a Specialist in Orthopedics amongst my peers. Looking at the PTs I knew, only a few clinicians and instructors had achieved this task and I envied them for it. I therefore challenged myself to become a specialist by the time I had been practicing for five years. Yet, how would I go about doing it? I remember asking peers and hearing about various courses, certain readings, and being referred to websites. However, no set concrete path pointed me to the exact path to my goal. It was then I encountered a clinician who raved about a year long continuing education course that helped him prep for the OCS. Curious, I inquired with the course’s instructor and found that many clinicians whom took this course were provided instruction and reasoning thatpropelled them on their path to the OCS. Looking back, I feel I was lucky to have encountered a person whom shared his knowledge with me. Having this knowledge no doubt was a crucial stepping stone in becoming an OCS and the clinician I am today. Looking at residents and students I encounter now, I try and provide the same help. However, I also feel that being an owner of a JetSet Rehab Education, I can also share some of this insight with you. Here are some resources and ideas if you plan on taking your OCS in the years to come :

1. Consider taking an orthopedic residency to improve your clinical reasoning and thought process. Much of what the exam is predicated on is your thought process. If you work hard and put the time in on a residency, you are sure to have the mindset for the exam.  Here are some Residency links

2. Go to the ABPTS website and read about the exam and its nuances. Get an understanding of the background you’ll need to take the test. Also, utilize the practice questions to gain an understanding of the nature of the test questions. Click here to learn more at the ABPTS website.

3. Purchase and thoroughly understand the orthopedic current concepts that are published by the Orthopedic Section of the APTA. The evidence and literature presented here does an excellent job at preparing you for the exam with regards to current literature and evidence. It is one of the quintessential OCS study guides! Click here to access the page to order the  latest edition current concepts at the Orthopedic Section. 

4.  Know your strengths and weaknesses in regards to the exam. Understand the percentage of information asked on the exam. The ABPTS notes not often practiced areas such as hand and TMJ make up to 7% of the exam. The shoulder 15%! Knowing this information seek out courses and information that can bolster your knowledge base. 


5. Lastly, consider additional sources of information. One book highly regarded by many OCS' in my clinic is Orthopedic Physical Therapy Secrets this can be found pretty easily at Amazon. Another excellent resource is the clinical App, PhysioU, which  can be found on the App store. This app provides up to date evidence based information on orthopedic evaluation and treatment. It can also be utilized as a clinical tool for further assessment. 

Looking forward, you can turn any weakness into a strength going into the exam. Having knowledge of the above information will hopefully set you up for success on the exam. Remember to also network with other OCS’ and peers at work and at courses to to see what worked for them. Researching and studying should hopefully prepare you well for them exam, and hopefully put you amongst the ranks of a leader in your profession. Best of luck!


Jiten B. Bhatt DPT, OCS

Co-Founder JetSet Rehab Education.


Update:  I have heard great things about these online study groups via Google Groups.  Here is a link to the 2017 group.