15+ Year Member
Aug 23, 2002
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hi all,

i'm a 1st year med student and am just discovering PM&R. No one ever seems to talk about it with us! All we hear about is peds...medicine...plastic surgery :)

I have an interest in neurology (and neuroscience in general) but am sort of disappointed with the treatment "options" that neurologists can provide...I'd love to focus on patients who have spinal cord injuries or CNS that possible within PMR?

also, i do have some lifestyle concerns. I'm not concerned about salary but rather hours. (I like women's health a lot too, but i think the lifestyle of an Ob/Gyn would make me hate it). What does a typical work week look like for a physiatrist?

Thanks for your help :)


SDN Moderator
15+ Year Member
Aug 25, 2003
Attending Physician
You can go to and click on med-students to get more info about the specialty.

I too, thought about Neurology because I found the subject matter interesting. However, as nice it is to try to figure out where the lesion is in a stroke patient, ultimately, that doesn't make much of a difference in the outcome. I got depressed that there weren't many treatment options for people with SCIs, Strokes, TBIs, etc. in Neurology. I wanted to feel that as a doctor, that I have made a difference in the patients' lives. I really liked the Neurologists I worked with but they seemed a bit more "cerebral" (pardon the pun). They were very intelligent and it was very intellectually stimulating to talk to them about Neurological mechanisms of stroke deficits, etc... However, I felt frustrated that I couldn't do more.

In PM&R, you actually get to see the resilience of the human spirit and the miracle of healing over time. It is rewarding to spend time with a new SCI patient and go through the journey of learning wheelchair maneuvers, self-cath, etc. with them. Many of the physiatrists I worked with seemed to have more time to spend with the patients. I was actually suprised at the amount of contact physiatrists have with their patients and their families. It's also amazing to see people come out of comas or see patients learning to talk again after having a stroke.

In terms of lifestyle, PM&R is known as one of the better lifestyle specialties. Rehab patients, in general, tend to have less acute issues. (This is changing because of financial factors - get more acute patients in in-pt rehab...) There are many options available for physiatrists - and lots of subspecialties in the field, like SCI, TBI, Pain, MSK, Sports, Stroke, Ortho, Prosthetics & Orthotics, Cancer, Burn, etc.... They don't call PM&R "Plenty of Money and Relaxation" for no reason... :p

In terms of women's health, I know that at RIC, there is a female physiatrist specializing in pelvic pain issues. It's also possible to integrate complementary/alternative medicine techniques into your practice - as covered in threads in this forum. I've also had female patients with ovarian cancer, and other malignancies in rehab - and truly enjoyed the encounters.

You're still a first year and you've got some time to think - but if you can't get exposure at your school, maybe you can take a few days during that only free summer in medical school to shadow some physiatrists??? just an idea. :idea:

Anyways, good luck with your search! Hope this helps.
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