Made possible through funding from:
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- National Institute of Child Health Human Development (NICHD)
- National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR)
- Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP)
The Need for Physiatric Research
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) as a specialty faces exciting opportunities to contribute to the health and well-being of society. As a specialty that concerns itself not with a specific organ system, but with human performance and function, the field has much to offer in the way of solutions to critical societal issues such as the aging of the population, the saving of individuals with formerly lethal conditions, and the increased societal recognition of the importance of quality of life. Moreover, advances in other scientific arenas offer new and exciting tools that may be applied to problems of human function.
Like all other medical specialties, advances in PM&R are dependent upon research. Real challenges are faced by the field as it is a relatively small specialty, new in comparison to other disciplines, lacks a history of major research involvement, and operates within a highly complex theoretical framework. Moreover, because rehabilitation science concerns itself with analytic levels ranging from molecular to social, appropriate models for advanced research training differ from those that have been successful in more narrowly defined scientific disciplines.
Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Defined
The Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program (RMSTP) provides research training, mentorship and career development support for those physiatrists committed to developing productive careers in academic medicine and research. The ultimate aim of the RMSTP is to increase the number of rigorously trained, extramurally competitive and scientifically productive faculty members in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) departments, who can contribute to the continued development of physiatric research specifically and rehabilitation science in general.
Resident Participants in the RMSTP will engage in a three-phase process spanning eight years. Prior to entrance into the program, (the pre-application phase), potential candidates will be exposed to essential preparatory activities including early career counseling and scientific mentorship. Phase I of the RMSTP focuses on research and training conducted in the laboratory of a productive senior scientist in the area of interest to the trainee. Phase II consists of the first two years of junior faculty status, where the trainee will transition into a career as an independent investigator. Individuals who are already in junior faculty positions may enter directly into Phase I if they have received adequate preparation previously
If physiatrists treat problems in human function, then one might define physiatric researchers as scientists of human function. Thus, it becomes obvious that there is no one type of training experience or skill set which is "appropriate" for all physiatric researchers. The goal of the RMSTP, therefore, is to expose physiatrists to tools and knowledge bases that are closely related to the problems of human function that they wish to understand and to help them transform these tools into the building blocks of a physiatric research base.
RMSTP also seeks to expose the trainees to opportunities for ongoing collaboration with investigators in related disciplines who possess a depth of knowledge in their own fields so as to continually enrich the collaborative stream of research and create an environment in which mentorship is consistently present.
Trainees are the essential component of a completed vision of the research-intensive PM&R department, populated by faculty who are experts on human functions of various kinds with the tools and skills necessary to transform concepts into scientific fact.