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100+ page excerpt of

The Successful Match

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Preclinical Years)


The preclinical years of medical school are important for students considering a career in physical medicine and rehabilitation.


With so many highly qualified applicants to choose among, physical medicine and rehabilitation residency programs also look for involvement in extracurricular activities, community service, and research. According to the 2016 NRMP Program Director Survey:


  • Leadership qualities are cited by 60% of programs as a factor used to make interview decisions.

  • Demonstrated involvement or interest in research is cited by 57% as a factor used to make interview decisions.

  • Volunteer/extracurricular activities are cited by 67% of programs as a factor used to make interview decisions.


The preclinical years are an excellent time to build these credentials.



3 Ways To Build Your Credentials In Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation As a Preclinical Student



1 The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Northwestern University sponsors the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Summer Externship Program. This program offers preclinical students the opportunity to assist in the clinical management of patients. Students are also able to participate in a research project.


2 The Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) and the Foundation for PM&R offers students a summer externship (Rehabilitation Research Experience for Medical Students) following the first year of medical school at participating host institutions. During this externship, students are expected to complete a scholarly project. After completion of the project, students are expected to submit a research paper to the AAP Best Medical Student Paper Competition. Students are able to present their findings at the organization’s Annual Assembly.


3 The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has created a mentor program. Mentors are grouped according to their areas of interest in the field, and are available to answer questions about the specialty, residency programs, and the application process. Osteopathic students can also find a mentor through the American Osteopathic College of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s mentor program.



For more information on how to stand out in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation as a preclinical student, turn to our book Success in Medical School: Insider Advice for the Preclinical Years