Units of the PSP Certification Program™

Unit 1 – Fundamentals of Primary Spine Care

Unit 2 – The Lumbar Spine

Unit 3 – The Cervical Spine

Unit 4 – Clinical Management and Final Proficiency Exam

Prospective Students:

Apply Now

Or, scan below:

QR Code
Course Participants:

Participants who are accepted into and registered for the PSP Program can access the course using the link below.

Canvas Login

Program Overview

How is the program structured?

This educational program is designed to train physical therapists and chiropractors to be the first-contact provider for patients with spinal problems, that leads to certification as a Primary Spine Practitioner. This advanced course is for practitioners that desire to work in a team-based environment that comprehensively manages and coordinates the care for individuals with these spine-related disorders.

The PSP Certification Program™ consists of a total of approximately 120 hours of instruction. The program is divided into 4 “units” of instruction, with each unit consisting of two parts: 1) a set of on-line educational modules (8 -12 hours) and 2) a weekend skill-building workshop (16 hours), along with 2 supportive textbooks. Students are required to pass quizzes accompanying each on-line educational module. Following each live weekend course, students will also need to pass a unit test which covers both the on-line learning and live coursework. There is also a final practical competency exam that will be given after the last weekend course (Unit 4) of the PSP series.

Who are the PSP Live Program Presenters?


Photo of James J. Irrgang, PT PhD ATC FAPTAJames Irrgang PT, PhD, ATC, FAPTA
Chair and Professor, Department of Physical Therapy
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Irrgang is Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. He also has secondary appointments in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute in the School of Medicine. Currently, Dr. Irrgang serves as the Scientific Director of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry. His research interests include development and validation of patient-reported outcome measures as well as clinical research related to the knee and shoulder. Current active studies include: 1) a study to provide validity evidence for the PROMIS pain interference and physical function computer adaptive tests (CATs) for individuals with a variety of knee conditions and 2) a prospective observational study to determine the outcome and factors influencing the effects of exercise therapy for individuals with a supraspinatus tear. Additionally, Dr. Irrgang recently received funding from the Department of Defense for a 23 site multi-center clinical trial to determine the effects of timing of surgery (early vs. delayed) and post-operative rehabilitation (early vs. delayed) for the treatment of multiple ligament knee injuries. His areas of clinical expertise are related to evaluation and treatment of the knee and shoulder. Dr. Irrgang served as President of the Orthopaedic Section from 2007 to 2013 and was presented with the Paris Distinguished Service Award from the Section in 2015.


Photo of Donald R. Murphy, DC, FRCCDonald R. Murphy, DC, FRCC
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine
Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Primary Spine Practitioner Network
CRISP Education and Research

Dr. Murphy is Medical Director of the Spine Care Program for Care New England Health System, a large multi-hospital system in Rhode Island where he oversees the development and implementation of an integrated spine care pathway. He is also Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University. His other faculty appointments include Professor, Part-Time University Faculty at Southern California University of Health Sciences and Adjunct Associate Professor at New York Chiropractic College. Dr. Murphy has been admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractors in the United Kingdom. Dr. Murphy has served on the Expert Panel for several spine care guidelines, including those of the American College of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, American College of Physicians and American Pain Society.

Dr. Murphy has 30 years’ experience practicing and teaching primary spine care. He has lectured all over the US as well as in 12 other countries on this and related topics. Dr. Murphy has nearly 100 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and book chapters. His recent books, Clinical Reasoning in Spine Pain, Volume I and II serve as the required texts for this course. His consulting activities include assisting hospitals, healthcare systems and insurers in implementing high-value spine care services.

Photo of Michael Timko PT, MS, FAAOMPTMichael Timko, PT, MS, FAAOMPT
Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Pittsburgh
Co-Director and Instructor, Physical Therapy Post-Professional MS Program,
Musculoskeletal Concentration

Michael Timko PT, MS, FAAOMPT is currently a full-time Instructor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and a part-time Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Physical Therapy at West Virginia University, School of Medicine. He is a practicing clinician at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine and the WVU Department of Orthopedics, where he specializes in the management of patients with spinal dysfunction.

This former Mountaineer quarterback received a B.S. in Physical Therapy from West Virginia University. He then completed studies at the University of Pittsburgh, including residency training in Orthopedic Manual Therapy, and earned a post-professional Masters degree in Health and Rehabilitation Science. He has lectured both at the local, national, and international levels on a variety of topics pertaining to neuromuscular rehabilitation. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists, and serves as a member of the Board of Examiners for that organization.

Photo of Carol M. Greco, PhDCarol M. Greco, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Licensed Psychologist, Certified MBSR Instructor
UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine

Carol Greco is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine She is a licensed psychologist and researcher specializing in pain and chronic illness, and has over 20 years of clinical, teaching, and research experience with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and related approaches. Dr. Greco worked for approximately 10 years with two internationally known leaders in the field of CBT and biopsychosocial interventions for pain, Drs. Dennis Turk and Thomas E. Rudy. 

Dr. Greco has developed and tested CBT and integrative medicine interventions for persons with chronic back pain, systemic lupus erythematosus, and temporomandibular disorders. She is currently principal investigator on two large NIH-funded projects and a PCORI methodology study. Her areas of research include randomized controlled trials of mind-body interventions for persons with chronic pain and chronic illness, evaluating associations of psychosocial factors with chronic pain and disability, and patient-reported assessments of the healing context in treatment.  


Updated | 02.3.2020

PSP logo

Questions regarding the program:

Michael Timko, PT, MS
Fellow American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy
Certified Primary Spine Practitioner (PSP)

Department of Physical Therapy
University of Pittsburgh
Bridgeside Point 1
100 Technology Drive Suite 228
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
P: (412) 383-4509

Questions regarding program registration:

Clarice Rutledge
Post-Professional Education Administrator
ADaPT Administrator

Department of Physical Therapy
University of Pittsburgh
Bridgeside Point 1
100 Technology Drive Suite 210
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
P: (412) 383-4509

Copyright© 2021 University of Pittsburgh. All Rights Reserved.