For the past week and a half I have been on my 3rd year elective. At LLU, we do a 2 week elective after our Pediatric rotation. It has been interesting. They told us to use the elective to help us to either rule in or to rule out a specialty we are considering.
I ranked Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) as my first choice and was glad when I found out I got it. I chose it because I had heard many people say that it is a good specialty to go into: decent pay & good lifestyle. But I really had no idea what PM&R doctors did.
With my 2 weeks rotating through the PM&R service I hoped tho learn more about what these doctors actually do and explore the specialty as best I could. I’ve learned that these PM&R doctors are called physiatrists and their goal is to improve the quality of life and the function of their patients. Within this specialty doctors manage pain, assist in regaining physical function, deal with amputees, treat spinal injuries, etc. It is a huge field.
Today I saw a stroke patient. I’ll call her Sharon. Sharon has been in the recovery unit for quite some time. The thing that stuck out to me was that her left side was extremely weak due to the stroke. However, she insisted that it had always been that way. To her, there was no change in her physical abilities and she couldn’t understand why she was still being kept in the rehab facility.
I’d heard about hemineglect before but this was the first time for me seeing it live. And it was very odd to see.
PM&R doctors also do EMGs like neurologists. I got to chance to observe during one day of EMG clinic. The whole ordeal looked quite uncomfortable. After the first patient finished, one of the medical students asked the attending if he could explain a little bit about EMGs. He took us back into the room and proceeded to perform an EMG on himself.
He took it like a champ. While the patients were squirming and moaning with pain, the attending just fiddled with that needle in his muscle. So I snuck this picture in. If you click on it, a larger version should pop up and you might be able to see the needle.
Overall, it’s been a good experience. I’m glad I got a chance to see the wide variety of things that happens within the PM&R specialty. At this point, it is still on my list of possibilities.