Medical Student Education and Electives


Welcome, and thank you for your interest in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, New York. As the only academic medical institution headquartered in the borough of Brooklyn, we are the leading providers of musculoskeletal care in the area; as well as the preeminent academic facility for musculoskeletal education and cutting-edge musculoskeletal research in the borough.

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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), also known as physiatry or rehabilitation medicine focuses on optimizing patients’ functional independence and improving patients’ quality of life. The field of PM&R has a focus on impairments or disabilities that effect the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves, brain, and spinal cord. Physiatrists seek to address a person’s physical, emotional, medical, social, and vocational needs.

The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University has been in existence since 1972.  Over 250 residents have graduated our program since its inception. Our program provides a well-balanced, in-depth clinical exposure, utilizing rotations at Downstate and our affiliated institutions. The variety of patient care settings exposes our trainees to a diverse and unique amount of medical conditions; thus, ensuring they have the experience, knowledge and confidence to practice in any healthcare setting upon graduation.

Third year medical students can take a two-week elective in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, while fourth year medical students can choose between a two- or four-week elective in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. We accept medical students from other institutions for rotations through VSLO.

Outside of rotations, the division has opportunities for shadowing and research available to students; additionally, we offer physician and resident mentorship for all medical students. We help support the SUNY Downstate COM PM&R student interest group to help medical students gain exposure, education, and in applying to the field of PM&R.

We look forward to being a part of your journey and hope you will consider joining our program to further your education and training! 

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Course Description

The elective in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is either a 2-credit hour, 2-week long elective course or a 4-credit hour, 4-week long elective course, that seeks to provide medical students with exposure to inpatient and outpatient physiatry of a varied PM&R patient population.

The course is designed to allow students the opportunity to actively engage in patient care and clinical learning experiences under the guidance of faculty members and resident physicians.

Available Courses:
PMRB 4571 - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation HSCB Elective (2 week Third Year Elective)
PMRB 4572 - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation HSCB Elective (2 or 4 week Fourth Year Elective)


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The overall goal of the elective is to give the student an exposure and clinical experience in the practice of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Completion of this course should prepare students to interact with, treat, and medically manage patients with all levels of ability and disability. These goals will be accomplished by the following:

Students will gain exposure to the following areas of PM&R:

  • Musculoskeletal care
  • Sports injuries
  • Post-operative care
  • Neurorehabilitation
  • Pain medicine
  • Pediatric functional and developmental disorders
  • Prosthetics and orthotics
  • Specialized rehabilitation

Students will observe and participate in the following procedures common to PM&R:

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  • Peripheral joint injections
  • Trigger point injections
  • Interventional spine procedures
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Electromyography
  • Spasticity management
  • Ultrasound guided joint and percutaneous procedures

The Soon M. Rho, MD Memorial Award in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Dr. Rho completed his residency training at Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU and Joined SUNY Downstate as an attending physician in 1976. He continued to train Downstate PM&R residents and Downstate medical students until 2014. During his tenure at SUNY Downstate Dr. Rho demonstrated great altruism, humanism, and commitment to all of his patients and pupils. In his honor, this award is given to the medical student who has demonstrated a passion for Physiatry and is expected to make substantiate contributions to the field of PM&R.

2019: Ryan McLoughlin, MD

2022: Alvin Chang, MD

2023: Lon Yin Chan, MD

Visiting Medical Students

We accept medical students for visiting rotations from all U.S. accredited medical schools. Please apply for a spot through VSLO. While completing a visiting rotation, you will have the opportunity to rotate at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University on both our inpatient rehabilitation unit and at our outpatient clinics to gain a wide and diverse exposure to the field of PM&R. You will work closely with our attending and resident physicians to deliver high quality care to our patient population.

Visiting Student Learning Opportunities (VSLO) Website

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Additional Resources for Medical Students

SUNY Downstate PM&R Overview

SUNY Downstate College of Medicine PM&R Student Interest Group

AAPM&R Medical Student Resources

AAP Medical Student Resources

AAP PM&R Education Resources

The New York Society Of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (NYSPM&R)


For further information on medical student elective rotations please contact our elective course coordinator:
Sheila Anderson – 718-270-2951 -

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