Clinicians help a patient back to her room


Observership Program





For over 25 years, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) has opened our doors to clinicians from around the globe who want to see, first-hand, how our experts deliver patient care and learn about the many programs we run in our flagship hospital and across our system of care. Our Observership Program provides insights into our new model of care that integrates research and therapy in 5 newly built Ability Labs, and the use of evidence based assessment and treatment to provide the best patient care.

Participants in the Observership Program have an itinerary custom built around their area(s) of interest. We match you with physicians, therapists and other experts who you will shadow as they go through their day. You may also attend educational programs, such as Grand Rounds. At the end of your observership, we will present you with a Letter of Acknowledgement describing the dates of your visit. Please note, that this program does not award educational credit and observers do not have privileges to treat or provide direct services to patients.

Please be advised that our Observership Program is designed for currently practicing clinicans and is not suitable for students or individuals seeking residency or medical rotational opportunities within the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. 

Fees and Timing


We ask for 3 preferred dates and do our best to accommodate.  Your application must be received at least three months in advance of your proposed visit. 

Each year we receive a tremendous number of requests for observerships.  For this reason, as well as legal and regulatory issues surrounding such visits and staff availability, only a limited number of observerships can be accepted each year.

The fee is $1,000 per day. We currently do not have any scholarship monies available for this program.

Observerships can range from one to ten business days in length,

Getting Started


Submit all application materials as listed below to the Observership Coordinator at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at least three months before anticipated date of arrival.  All required documents must be included in order to consider the application.  

For a complete checklist of all documents needed for program application as well as a detailed outline of the program's policies please download our Rehabilitation Observership Checklist below.  If you're ready to begin the application process, download the Observership Application Form below.

If you have any additional questions, contact Julie Fuith-Costa at 312-238-3107 or

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