Mar 17, 2020
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Happy holidays! I’m an incoming MS-1 at a state DO school, and am looking to gather insights from residents/attendings here in regards to the correct steps to take for success in matching PM&R. I have talked to a few PM&R docs, and the advice I’ve gathered has boiled down to acting like I am gunning for ortho (grades and research) as it would translate nicely with a resume tailored towards PM&R. My DO school does not have an in house PM&R residency program at the teaching hospital, but does have an in house ortho residency, along with relatively robust general research opportunities for a DO school. Any tips or recommendations on how I should spend my time in med school would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

RangerBob

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In my opinion that’s horrible advice. It’s almost the worst advice an aspiring PM&R resident could be given. We’re just about the least “gunnerish” specialty out there—I’m honestly not sure if someone can actually be a gunner and be in PM&R—we’re just not the sort of specialty to appeal to that type of personality, just like FM wouldn’t appeal to gunners as well.

There is certainly some overlap tween ortho and PM&R, but there are a lot of differences. In the past, PM&R was essentially a guaranteed backup for students who wanted to match ortho but failed, and I’m guessing that’s where the advice came from. However this is no longer the the case-we’re still a fairly uncompetitive specialty stats-wise, but as far as the number of applicants to available positions we’re among the more selective specialties and few programs will want someone who they think is going into PM&R as a backup-there’s always a chance such a person will not stay in the program. There are plenty of applicants with good test scores who want to be in PM&R, so why risk offering an interview to someone who may not keep the interview/rank the program/stay if matched? Too many “what if’s?”...

The best advice is to shadow physiatrists and get to know PM&R. Do a rotation. Study, do well on boards, and have a genuine interest in PM&R. Explore ortho and other specialties if you’re interested in them, but try to avoid giving the impression PM&R (or any specialty for that matter) is a backup.

Honestly that’s pretty much all you need to do—with decent stats and a cooperative personality most can match into PM&R just fine. High stats/some research or other stuff that helps you stand out will be needed to get into the top programs.
 
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In my opinion that’s horrible advice. It’s almost the worst advice an aspiring PM&R resident could be given. We’re just about the least “gunnerish” specialty out there—I’m honestly not sure if someone can actually be a gunner and be in PM&R—we’re just not the sort of specialty to appeal to that type of personality, just like FM wouldn’t appeal to gunners as well.

There is certainly some overlap tween ortho and PM&R, but there are a lot of differences. In the past, PM&R was essentially a guaranteed backup for students who wanted to match ortho but failed, and I’m guessing that’s where the advice came from. However this is no longer the the case-we’re still a fairly uncompetitive specialty stats-wise, but as far as the number of applicants to available positions we’re among the more selective specialties and few programs will want someone who they think is going into PM&R as a backup-there’s always a chance such a person will not stay in the program. There are plenty of applicants with good test scores who want to be in PM&R, so why risk offering an interview to someone who may not keep the interview/rank the program/stay if matched? Too many “what if’s?”...

The best advice is to shadow physiatrists and get to know PM&R. Do a rotation. Study, do well on boards, and have a genuine interest in PM&R. Explore ortho and other specialties if you’re interested in them, but try to avoid giving the impression PM&R (or any specialty for that matter) is a backup.

Honestly that’s pretty much all you need to do—with decent stats and a cooperative personality most can match into PM&R just fine. High stats/some research or other stuff that helps you stand out will be needed to get into the top programs.
Thank you for the reply, this was certainly helpful. And I wanted to be clear, I’m not wanting to do ortho, my interest is in PM&R. Using the term “gunner” might have been inappropriate, I thought the term just meant working hard in school to get the best grades possible. It seems like there’s much more to being a “gunner” than that...What I meant by “gunning for ortho” was just to obtain the highest scores possible during school to keep doors open for residency locations and then trying to do research in ortho related areas as PM&R specific research can be hard to come by, especially at a DO school. Like I said in my first post, I have access to ortho but not PM&R directly through my school, thus I am thinking it would be more likely that I could work on ortho related research that will still be applicable to PM&R in providing a rich background in the musculoskeletal system.

I’m certainly not a “gunner” who steps on other students heads, I’m a people person who loves the direct patient interactions in a collaborative team setting. I’m a team player. From what I’ve seen shadowing PM&R and working in medicine (and the stereotypes on SDN 😁) I think I fit the standard mold of PM&R docs nicely. Apologies if my initial post was off putting,I think I might be getting a little nervous to start my first year and am a little overzealous right now. I love PM&R and want to ensure a successful match in the future!
 
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RangerBob

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Thank you for the reply, this was certainly helpful. And I wanted to be clear, I’m not wanting to do ortho, my interest is in PM&R. Using the term “gunner” might have been inappropriate, I thought the term just meant working hard in school to get the best grades possible. It seems like there’s much more to being a “gunner” than that...What I meant by “gunning for ortho” was just to obtain the highest scores possible during school to keep doors open for residency locations and then trying to do research in ortho related areas as PM&R specific research can be hard to come by, especially at a DO school. Like I said in my first post, I have access to ortho but not PM&R directly through my school, thus I am thinking it would be more likely that I could work on ortho related research that will still be applicable to PM&R in providing a rich background in the musculoskeletal system.

I’m certainly not a “gunner” who steps on other students heads, I’m a people person who loves the direct patient interactions in a collaborative team setting. I’m a team player. From what I’ve seen shadowing PM&R and working in medicine (and the stereotypes on SDN 😁) I think I fit the standard mold of PM&R docs nicely. Apologies if my initial post was off putting,I think I might be getting a little nervous to start my first year and am a little overzealous right now. I love PM&R and want to ensure a successful match in the future!
Your post wasn’t off-putting. I was worried that your were a young med student who got bad advice and I didn’t want you turning into a gunner to become competitive for PM&R, when you could be more competitive by staying a team player and getting good grades, etc. Sounds like that was your plan all along.

PM&R is a great field and very rewarding-I hope it’s a good fit for you and that you match into it. Best of luck!
 
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Your post wasn’t off-putting. I was worried that your were a young med student who got bad advice and I didn’t want you turning into a gunner to become competitive for PM&R, when you could be more competitive by staying a team player and getting good grades, etc. Sounds like that was your plan all along.

PM&R is a great field and very rewarding-I hope it’s a good fit for you and that you match into it. Best of luck!
Thank you!
 

PMR2008

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@RangerBob has some excellent advice. Start a interest group at your school is there isn't one. Shadow local PM&R docs when time allows. Once you do try to find some unique cases and try to submit a poster. Specially between fist and second year. Volunteer at PM&R related activities including special Olympics, charities for the disabled population etc. Join the AAPM&R and attend the annual conference. You will make a lot of connections and PM&R is a small field. Everyone is within 1-2 degrees of connection.
Obviously do well in school and try your best. If Ortho is all you have had school maybe do one rotation at the most. Get a feel for surgical complications, reading imaging, managing ortho conditions etc. I was interested in PM&R as a junior in college. Went to DO school and now I am almost 10 years post fellowship training. PM&R is a wonderful field. Every field has challenges but I could not imagine myself doing anything else.
 

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