Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation


Physical medicine and rehabilitation, also referred to as rehabilitation medicine, is the medical specialty concerned with diagnosing, evaluating, and treating patients with physical disabilities. These disabilities may arise from conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system such as neck and back pain, sports injuries, or other painful conditions affecting the limbs, for example carpal tunnel syndrome. Alternatively, the disabilities may result from neurological trauma or disease such as spinal cord injury, head injury, or stroke. A physician certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation is often called a physiatrist. The primary goal of the physiatrist is to achieve maximal restoration of physical, psychological, social, and vocational function through comprehensive rehabilitation. Pain management is often an important part of the role of the physiatrist. For diagnosis and evaluation, a physiatrist may include the techniques of electromyography to supplement the standard history, physical, X-ray, and laboratory examinations. The physiatrist has expertise in the appropriate use of therapeutic exercise, prosthetics (artifical limbs), orthotics, and mechanical and electrical devices.

Training required: Four years plus one year clinical practice.

For more information about this specialty, including the nature of the work, personal characteristics, residency requirements, match data, workforce statistics, compensation, and relevant links and readings, please see the AAMC page on this specialty (requires login to AAMC site. See "Specialty Pages" tab).

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at UNC

Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Residency Director: Michael Y. Lee, M.D., M.H.A.

Career Goal Advisor Information: See Career Goal Advisor Page

Student Interest Group

Elective Opportunities

2 Week Career Exploration Opportunities


April 2009 - Volume 1, Issue 4 (PDF)

Spotlight on Specialties: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Ask the Advisor: In this issue, we consider how to evaluate your specialty prospects after a negative clinical rotation and how to obtain glowing letters of recommendation.
CiM Toolbox: Using Your Clinical Rotations to Explore Specialties
Match Corner: An MSPE Primer