Also known as rehabilitation physicians, Physiatrists specialize in diagnosing and treating pain and injuries, focusing primarily on nonsurgical methods. Their goal is to help restore as much functioning and movement as possible. Experts in nerves, muscles and bones, these physicians do everything possible to keep people healthy and moving well. And with more individuals across the United States exploring their 'wild side' or testing their limits of physical ability, the need for qualified physiatrists will continue to grow in the near future.
What is a Physiatrist?
Physiatrists hold either a (Doctor of Medicine) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree and are experts in physical medicine and rehabilitation. These physicians focus on non-surgical methods of treating patients who have experienced problems resulting from injuries, illness or chronic conditions.
Physiatrists employ a comprehensive and personalized method of treatment, combining tools such as physical therapy and medication.
In day-to-day practice, Physiatrists are responsible for:
Understanding the Educational Path to Become a Physiatrist
The educational path begins by receiving a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university. Strong interpersonal skills and specialized training in the all biological systems, exercise and nutrition are also requirements for becoming a successful Physiatrist. This skill set is often the focus of core educational course study while in college.
Educational Path of a Psychiatrist
Earn a bachelor's degree.
A bachelor’s degree is the first higher-education step toward becoming a Physiatrist. Although candidates complete a broad range of undergraduate majors, students should complete the courses the American Association of Medical Colleges found most medical schools require as prerequisites: biology, physics, and chemistry, along with written and oral communication course study.
During their undergraduate degree, students wanting to gain an edge in the competitive medical school application pool would benefit from taking career and advanced education oriented steps including:
Complete a medical school program
During medical school, future Physiatrists spend their first year primarily in the classroom absorbing knowledge in areas like anatomy, histology, pathology, biochemistry, psychology, and ethics. The second year, while still in the classroom, is more clinically focused. Third and fourth year students will move into clinical rotations and gain exposure to a wide range of potential specializations.
Complete a Residency
Following medical school, graduates pursuing Physiatrist should elect to complete their four-year residency in the specialty. Residencies in Physiatrist will include experience in general rehab as well as neurological disorders such as ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, fractures, stroke recovery, brain injury and pediatrics.
Secure a license
Licensing requirements vary by state, and doctors must sit for a state exam in each state they plan to practice medicine. It is considered strategic to complete one’s residency in the state of intended practice. Otherwise, psychiatrists will need to learn a different set of regulations before taking the test.
Earn a Specialty
Physiatrists may choose to specialize in neurorehabilitation, pain medicine, post-operative care, musculoskeletal care, sports injuries, pediatrics and specialized rehabilitation.
Understanding the Career Path of Becoming a Physiatrist
Physiatrists work in a variety of settings, most often landing in primary care and outpatient specialty clinics. They typically work in private practice, as a part of larger treatment teams. They also work in inpatient hospitals and surgical settings.
After gaining invaluable on-hands experience with patients, a Physiatrist may seek employment options in Academia; becoming a teacher at medical colleges or specialty schools that focus on physical rehabilitation.
Professional organizations can be used as a means for networking, community service, think tanks, research, continued education and specialized learning. Physiatrists should consider joining The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; a national medical society representing more than 8,000 physician's specialists in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation.
According to PayScale the average physiatrist salary ranges from $134,997 to $222,943.
According to State University, job possibilities for physiatrists are expected to grow by 20 percent from 2008 to 2018. With more people staying physically active and working in professions that require strenuous physical labor, the need for highly qualified candidates that have a desire to learn how to become a Physiatrist will continue to grow. This job is one that requires extensive training and education – however is a rewarding profession indeed.