Medical rehabilitation training

This page outlines training for doctors interested in rehabilitation. It outlines what is involved. And it suggests why it is a very good speciality to join. I hope it convinces you that, if you choose Rehabilitation Medicine as your career, you will find it fascinating and rewarding for your whole professional life. You will never become bored by your clinical or other work.

The speciality name.
In the UK, the official, General Medical Council name for the speciality of doctors in rehabilitation is, unsurprisingly, Rehabilitation Medicine. The name indicates that the doctor has two areas of expertise: professionally in medicine, clinically in rehabilitation. Similar titles are used in other specialities: Palliative Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Medical Ophthalmology etc.

Internationally the commonest name for the speciality is “Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation”, with Rehabilitation Medicine being the second most common, followed by “Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine”. The term, physical, reflects the historical development of the speciality which started with electrical treatments and exercise. Exercise is still a key component of almost all rehabilitation, but electricity is not.

Who can enter training?
Rehabilitation covers all illnesses. There is no part of healthcare where patients will not need rehabilitation. Therefore rehabilitation has moved (in 2021) to welcome any doctor who has completed the basic core training in any clinical, patient-facing speciality.

Doctors who have achieved any of the following UK post-graduate qualifications may apply:

  • Internal Medicine Training stage one (two years),
  • ACCS-Acute/Internal Medicine (three years),
  • Level 1 Paediatrics training (three years),
  • Core Surgical Training (two years),
  • Core Level Training in Anaesthetics (two years),
  • Core Psychiatry Training (three years),
  • Basic (ST1 and ST2) Obstetrics and Gynaecology training (two years),
  • ST1 and ST2 of Ophthalmic Specialist Training (two years), or
  • completion of a General Practice specialty training programme (three years)

It can be seen that almost any doctor with core training in a patient-facing speciality is accepted into rehabilitation training. This broad range of entry routes reflects the fact that rehabilitation is appropriate for almost every patient with a continuing disability. Each trainee will bring into the speciality important knowledge and skills which they can continue to use. This broad entry benefits the speciality by giving the speciality a very broad range of specialist knowledge. It benefits patients who will benefit from the accumulated expertise within the speciality. It benefits the doctor because he or she will continue to use and benefit from their initial core training.

Why choose Rehabilitation Medicine?
Many doctors who train in the UK have had no exposure to rehabilitation as a speciality at any stage in their career – as a medical student, in the foundation training years, or during core training. A significant number of applicants first became aware of rehabilitation when a friend or relative has needed to have rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation medicine is a speciality that uses all medical clinical skills, that takes a holistic patient-centred approach to medicine, that engages with individual patients over months or longer, that always presents new challenges and opportunities to learn and develop, and that can satisfy most of the ambitions a person had when deciding to be a doctor.

There are three MindMaps that summarise the training. The first shows the 14 Capabilities in Practice (high-level training outcomes) given in the curriculum, that trainees will acquire. (here) The second shows the 39 competencies that are outlined in the draft syllabus. (here) The third, which is derived from the curriculum, summarises the programme of training. (here)

Anyone reading this who wishes to know more should:

  • look at the page discussing the 2021 curriculum, its associated guidance, and the training programme. (here)
  • read the education and training blog (here).
  • visit the website of the Specialist Society, the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine (BSRM).
  • find a local rehabilitation service, and contact one of the consultants to talk about the speciality and, if possible, spend a day or two with a doctor in training or a consultant.
  • look at a textbook, a recent UK one being the Oxford Handbook of Rehabilitation Medicine.
  • look at a journal, two UK-based international journals being Disability and Rehabilitation and Clinical Rehabilitation.
  • contact me using one of the forms below.

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