Medical Specialty

How Competitive is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency? Updated for 2023

You want to become a physiatrist? Here's what it takes to match into residency.

If you want a career as a physiatrist, here is how competitive the medical specialty is to match into a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) residency. Physical medicine and rehabilitation is the branch of medicine that seeks to promote healing and rehabilitation of patients. PM&R is also referred to as physiatry.


Statistics on the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Match

In 2022, PM&R had a total of 725 applicants and 532 spots. This equates to 1.36 applicants per position. Of the 267 U.S. MD seniors who applied, 43 did not match.

Total Positions Total Number of Applicants Number of Applicants per Position
532 725 1.36

Osteopathic (DO) Students Matching into PM&R

In 2022, the total number of DO Senior Applicants was 275. Of those, 176 matched, for a 64.00% match percentage. This makes physical medicine and rehabilitation a Friendly field for osteopathic students.

Total DO Applicants Matched DO Applicants DO Match Percentage
275 176 64.00

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) Matching into PM&R

Because there are only 0.58 U.S. MD applicants per 1 program spot, physical medicine and rehabilitation is considered to be Very Friendly for IMGs students.

Honors, Research and Awards for PM&R Residency Candidates

The average matched U.S. applicant had 8.9 volunteer experiences and 3.5 work experiences. They had 3.1 research experiences and 6.2 abstracts, presentations and publications. That makes this specialty on where the number of publications needed is Low.

Research Experiences Abstracts, Presentations and Publications Work Experiences Volunteer Experiences
3.1 6.2 3.5 8.9

Average Step 1 and Step 2 Scores for PM&R

The mean U.S. Step 1 score for matched medical students in physical medicine and rehabilitation was 230. The mean USMLE Step 2 CK score was 242.

Overall Competitiveness of PM&R Residency and Chances of Matching

The overall competitiveness level of PM&R is Low for a U.S. senior. With a Step 1 score of 200, the probability of matching is 70%. With a Step 1 score of >240, the probability is 94%.

How long is a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation? What is the lifestyle like for a PM&R resident?

Compared to other residencies, PM&R has a Medium training length. As far as lifestyle, physiatrists generally have a Low stress lifestyle. Of course, lifestyle is very subjective and if you love what you do, it does not matter! And if you hate what you do, it can still be rough no matter what. In medicine, you should find the specialty that makes you enjoy your everyday interactions with patients, staff and colleagues.

What is the average salary for physiatrists?

The average salary post-graduation from a PM&R residency is $308,000, provided one does not go on to sub-specialty training which can change the salary substantially. Academic versus private practice as well as location also play a large role in physician compensation.

What are fellowships one can do from a PM&R residency?

Following the successful completion of general PM&R residency, some physicians may choose to continue their graduate medical education with subspecialty training. Board-certified subspecialists complete additional training and qualifying examinations beyond those required for board certification in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Currently, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation certifies PM&R physicians. Some fellowships include:

What are the best physical medicine and rehabilitation residencies in the country?

The best residency for PM&R, or any specialty, is very driven by personal preference and situation. How close you are to family, loved ones, the type of training environment, the opportunities available are all things to take into consideration above and beyond name recognition of a program. However, there are some highly regarded names in the world of physical medicine and rehabilitation including:

    • McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University Program
    • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Program
    • New York University School of Medicine Program
    • Jackson Memorial Hospital/Jackson Health System Program

Much of the data above is available from the AAMC Charting the Outcomes report.

Explore Other Specialties:

SpecialtyAverage Step 1 Score (Matched)Average Step 2 Score (Matched)
Child Neurology233246
Diagnostic Radiology241249
Emergency Medicine233247
Family Medicine221238
General Surgery237249
Internal Medicine235248
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics236250
Interventional Radiology247255
Neurological Surgery248252
Obstetrics and Gynecology232248
Orthopaedic Surgery248255
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation228241
Plastic Surgery249256
Radiation Oncology243250
Vascular Surgery239247


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