The Immediate Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic and Resulting Adaptations in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Medical Education and Practice

PM R. 2020 Jul 23;10.1002/pmrj.12455. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12455. Online ahead of print.


Since the first reported case of Coronavirus disease (COVID‐19) in the United States in January 2020, substantial changes to medical education have taken place secondary to the demands, chaos, and uncertainty related to the pandemic. The involvement of medical students, residents and fellows in COVID‐19 care has and continues to vary by specialty and regions across the country. Our goal was to learn more about how COVID‐19 has impacted Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) training and practice across the country. To do so, real time, in‐depth experiences and opinions from persons within, or committed, to PM&R were pooled and this information was used to inform the creation of an anonymous survey that was distributed online to the PM&R community. 501 people completed the survey, 178 (35.5%) attending physicians, 183 (36.5%) residents and fellows, 29 (5.8%) interns, and 111 (22.2%) medical students. The survey results explore the impact of the global crisis on patient care and education in the field of PM&R. The adaptation from traditional patient care to telehealth was notable with 86.5% of physiatrists practicing via telemedicine during the pandemic. There was also a massive shift of education to virtual didactics with 92.5% of residents participating in virtual learning. The COVID‐19 pandemic has caused PM&R to revisit traditional routines in medical education and adapt to new practices to enhance educational experiences while still maintaining safe social distance between physicians, trainees and patients. Based on the survey results, the adaptations the PM&R community has made have provided a diversified, easily accessible platform for medical students, physiatrists‐in‐training and physiatrists across the country that has been full of innovation and collaboration between residencies and national organizations. We foresee continued, successful adoption of these new educational platforms and the use of telemedicine to enhance medical education and patient care post COVID‐19. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.