Quantity and Quality of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clerkships in US Medical Schools

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2021 Feb 10. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001717. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The purpose of this study is to address two underreported issues in undergraduate PM&R medical education: Quantity and quality of PM&R clerkships in US medical schools.

Design: A multimethod sequential design was used to evaluate the curricula of US medical schools. Quantity (n = 154) of PM&R clerkships was assessed by counting the number of required, selective, and elective clerkships in each medical school. Quality (n = 13) was assessed by conducting a thematic analysis on PM&R clerkship curricula to identify learning objectives. These objectives were then compared to learning objectives in a model standard.

Results: Whereas few medical schools required a PM&R clerkship, most offered elective rotations in PM&R. Most medical schools only included 6 of the 12 model standard learning objectives. Medical schools also included 29 learning objectives not present in the model standard.

Conclusions: PM&R clerkships are not underrepresented, but are underemphasized, in undergraduate medical schools. Furthermore, these clerkships use inconsistent learning objectives. Thus, findings suggest the need to draw attention to PM&R clerkships by offering them as selectives and to develop a list of standardized learning objectives. This exploratory study developed such a groundbreaking list and invites the PM&R community to test it.