How Should I Prepare for a PM&R Rotation

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The Medical Student's Guide to PM&R

If you are about to start a PM&R rotation, there are a few things that you can do to prepare.

  • First, you can do some background reading in the area in which you will be rotating. One resource that many students and residents use is “Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Pocketpedia,” a book that you can put in your white coat and reference while on rotation. Other popular reference books include, “PM&R Secrets,” and “Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Pocket Companion.” Additional references and textbooks can be found in the “What reading materials are helpful to learn more about PM&R?” section.
  • Prior to starting the rotation, you can ask generally what type of setting you will be working in (inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient clinics, or a combination), and what patient population you will be working with so that you can read up on those areas.
  • Another way to prepare is to review and refresh your neurologic and musculoskeletal physical examination skills. Regardless of which rotation you are doing, these are skills that you will definitely use during a PM&R rotation. 
  • Check out PM&R Knowledge Now® for an overview of many PM&R conditions and treatments and the Online Learning Portal for educational content curated by AAPM&R.

If you have PM&R rotations available at your institution, definitely take advantage of these opportunities, and speak with advisors, faculty, residents, or other students on the best way to schedule these rotations. If you are able to do more than 1 rotation, try to see different aspects of PM&R and diversify your experiences (outpatient and inpatient, musculoskeletal and neurorehabilitation, adults and pediatrics, etc.). If you are interested in doing away rotations at an outside institution, start this process early, at least 3-6 months in advance. Many institutions that accept rotating medical students have an application process, so check the PM&R residency websites for specific details and requirements. And if you do have PM&R at your institution, try and do a rotation there first before your scheduled away rotation.