Why I Almost Didn’t Do PM&R (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation)

I’ve been doing this series for a while and somebody requested I do one for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Considering I did PM&R, it’s hard to write a post about why I didn’t do it. But then again, I matched in another field initially, so I could explain my original thinking process.

I did a rotation in PM&R during October of my fourth year, which was just a little too late. I liked it a lot. I liked the pace, I liked the types of patients, I liked the procedures, and I thought all the attendings were really nice and laid back. I noticed the residents got to go home when they were on call and worked very reasonable hours.

Again, it was mostly about location for me. There was only ONE PM&R program in the area where I wanted to live to be near my husband, so that limited my choices significantly. And even if I matched at that program, I was worried about finding a prelim spot in that region. But here are a few other reasons why I initially decided against Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I am basing this on an actual pro/con list that I made during my fourth year:

1) Can be kind of boring, at least on the inpatient side. On inpatient rehab, things move slowly and there’s a lot of documentation involved. There’s no adrenaline rush, even compared with internal medicine.

2) Fewer opportunities for specialization. I wrote this, but it actually isn’t true. Physiatrists can specialize in brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, pain medicine, pediatrics, electrophysiology, sports medicine.

3) Longer residency than internal medicine. Apparently, I didn’t want to be in residency one extra second.

4) Jobs limited to urban areas. I’m not sure if this is exactly true, but I’d definitely say the job options for PM&R are limited compared with internal medicine.

5) No minions. When you’re a medicine resident, you get interns to help you. When you’re a PM&R resident, you don’t. I liked the idea of having minions. Then again, when I was a PM&R resident, there was actually a really good support staff that made the need for minions less. Like instead of making my intern figure out how to get the patient off our service, we’d have a case manager who would do it.

6) Not as respected. Within the medical profession, it’s definitely true that a lot of people don’t respect physiatrists. And outside the medical profession, a lot of people don’t know what we do. And vice versa.

Ultimately, looking through my list, a lot of the reasons I didn’t want to do PM&R weren’t really all that accurate. Mostly, it was about location and the fact that I did my rotation much too late.

Originally on Dr. Fizzy’s Blog.

You can find Dr. Fizzy’s newest book The Devil You Know on Amazon!


She’s got a great job at a VA Hospital, an adorable daughter, and a loving husband. Granted, it would be wonderful if her preschooler wouldn’t wake her up at three in the morning, and it would be a miracle if her husband would change the toilet paper roll once every millennium. Still, in most ways, she has the ideal life she’d always imagined.

Then Jane discovers that Dr. Ryan Reilly is the VA’s newest vascular surgeon. Dr. Ryan Reilly, a.k.a. Sexy Surgeon, a.k.a. the biggest jerk she ever loved.

A decade ago, Jane broke up with the Sexy Surgeon to marry the Nice Software Engineer, but as cracks and crevices appear in her marriage, she can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if she’d made a different choice. Or if it isn’t too late to change her mind…

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Dr. Fizzy

Freida McFadden is a midwestern physician who has finally finally finally come to the end of her grueling medical training, and at last she has enough time to publish the wealth of cartoons she's created over the years. If you enjoy them, please comment. If you don't enjoy them, then you can just keep your fool mouth shut. Read the rest at Doccartoon.blogspot.com, and make sure to check out her books, A Cartoon Guide To Becoming A Doctor, and The Devil You Know, on Amazon!