How to become a physiatrist

Physiatrists are physicians who have completed training in physical and rehabilitation medicine. They treat people with physical disabilities resulting from injuries and illnesses in the nerves, muscles, and bones.

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To become a physiatrist, four years of medical school and another four years of residency training must be completed. The first year of residency training is spent on internal medicine while the remaining three years are devoted to specialty training.

After completing the residency, the physiatrist may complete fellowship training in the treatments of spine-related pain or dysfunction, pain management for the treatment of many chronic pain, sports medicine, brain injury rehabilitation, spinal cord injury rehabilitation, or pediatric medicine. In the United States, there are six formal sub-specializations recognized under physical and rehabilitation medicine, including hospice and palliative medicine, neuromuscular medicine, pain medicine, pediatric rehabilitation medicine, spinal cord injury medicine, and sports medicine.

Career path

Physiatrists can practice their profession in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. They can also open their own private clinics. Some physiatrists can also perform administrative functions, like being a medical director or health department secretary. states that the median expected salary for a typical physiatrist in the United States is $205,337. Meanwhile, the Association of American Medical Colleges records a range of $180,000 to $210,000 as median salary for a physiatrist who works as professor in medical school.

While private physiatrists earn more income, those who work in the academic and other institutions get more opportunities for research or grant funding, or both.

Because physiatrists focus more on the treatment and rehabilitation of body parts that affect how people move and function normally, the greatest fulfillment from the job comes from seeing how people regain back their lives after their accidents.

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Dr. Mary Kneiser is a physiatrist certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Know more about her here.

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