PM&R Frequently Asked Questions

While I do want to encourage med students to enter Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R), at the same time, it's very hard to answer dozens of emails that basically ask me the same questions over and over. I generally postpone answering the email then feel guilty then end up either answering it a week or two later or forgetting about it entirely.

So I've decided to create this FAQ to address the questions I most commonly get asked. Before emailing me a question, please check out this FAQ.

Are my grades/scores good enough to match in PM&R?

Yes.

Can I match in PM&R as an IMG?

Maybe not in the top programs, but yes.

What can I do to make myself a better candidate?

The best thing you can do to make yourself a stronger candidate is to do an elective at a program you are interested in. And if during that rotation, you can prove yourself to be non-annoying, you have an excellent shot at matching there.

How should I prepare for my PM&R elective?

Read PM&R Secrets.

Is PM&R a DO-friendly field?

Are you kidding me? (In case you're not, the answer is yes.)

What is a day in the life of a physiatrist like?

This question is impossible to answer, because different physiatrists may have vastly different jobs. Some do only outpatient, some only inpatient, and some do a mix of the two. Some do lots of procedures (Botox, fluoroscopic steroid injections, EMGs) and some do no procedures. So there’s really no typical “day in the life” of a physiatrist.

Is PM&R a good field if I want to have a balance of work and family?

They don’t call it Plenty of Money & Relaxation for nothing. In residency, you generally have a lighter call schedule than in fields like medicine but heavier than, say, dermatology. Since physiatrists focus on function and pain management, it’s less likely that you’ll need to rush in on the weekend or in the middle of the night to deal with an emergency. However, some physiatrists work in private practice and have very busy schedules. If you work alone, you may need to make yourself available to your patients at all times. So while physiatrists generally have good lifestyles compared to other fields, it’s no guarantee.

Can you tell me more about __________ Residency Program?

Probably not. I really only know about my own program and I’d rather not say what that is. If you want more info about a program, you can check Freida, SDN, or Scutwork. Asking a question on the PM&R board on SDN can probably give you far better answers than I can, to be honest.

Would I like PM&R?

How should I know? Do an elective and decide for yourself.

5 comments:

  1. This is probably obvious to you, but not to me: What kind of out-patient is appropriate for referral to PM&R? Thank you, Tricia

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    1. That's a very broad question, as you can refer patients to physiatrists for pain management, EMGs, or musculoskeletal issues. I assume though that you're talking about something more on the rehab end? For example, a stroke patient?

      If you have a patient with a stroke who has residual deficits that are limiting their function in some way, this may be a good candidate for referral. For example, if they have muscle spasms or pain on their affected side, or perhaps you feel they might be able to walk better. The physiatrist may be able to recommend medications, perform injections (like Botox or cortisone), or recommend orthotics or other equipment that could optimize their functional ability. Same deal with any injury that affects function in some way. And I think any patient with an old spinal cord injury should definitely be seeing a physiatrist because they have a lot of very unique issues that can turn serious quickly if not well managed.

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  2. what do you mean by being geography? thank you, Tara

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  3. Do you recommend research for residencies? How important do you perceive this is?

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  4. What is the difference between a physiatrist and a physical therapist?

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