Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Program Description

The program is designed consistent with the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialty Requirements.

Program Curriculum

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is a 5 year residency program at the University of Alberta. The program offers rotations is all subspecialty areas of rehabilitation, including pediatric rehabilitation. In addition to the required rotations, the program offers a wide range of elective experiences.

The first year of the program provides a strong clinical basis for rehabilitation with 6 months of internal medicine (CTU and subspecialties), 2 months of surgery (neurosurgery and plastic surgery), and 4 months on various other rotations including pediatrics, psychiatry, emergency medicine and geriatrics. Residents will also have one to two months of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

There are 3 months of training in rheumatology, neurology and orthopedic surgery which usually occur in the second or third year of residency depending on scheduling.

The core Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation rotations are three to six months in duration and include: stroke, spinal cord medicine, brain injury, amputation rehabilitation, musculoskeletal rehabilitation, neuromuscular diseases/EMG, and pediatric rehabilitation.

There is ample elective time in fourth and fifth year to pursue clinical interests and career options.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is scheduled to implement Competence By Design (CBD) in July of 2020. Residents will still complete the above rotations; however, the duration and timing of these rotations may change. CBD will be competence and time based and include the following phases of training: transition to discipline, foundations of discipline, core of discipline and transition to practice.


The division has a very strong research interest and research is a required component of the program. Each resident will complete at least one research project under the direction of the research coordinator. Research is performed both longitudinally and in blocks as there are three one-month blocks of protected time available to perform research. Academic Physiatry Staff with a primary interest in research are available to mentor residents. Residents are expected to present their research at a provincial or national conference and most submit their manuscript for publication. Several residents in the program have won research awards and essay contacts at national conferences such as the Canadian Association of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Annual Meeting. There is a close affiliation between the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Neuroscience Research Group at the University of Alberta.

Academic Activities

All residents attend weekly academic half day sessions. These sessions are resident driven, as the residents have elected to be responsible for managing the academic half day schedule with input from staff. In addition to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation topics, academic half day also includes topics on anatomy, basic science, clinical skills, ethics, practice management, research and other CanMEDS related topics. Over the course of residency, residents will have several opportunities to refine their presentation skills by presenting at academic half day and other rounds.

Formal teaching seminars on Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation topics occurs throughout core rehabilitation rotations and is preceptor based. At the end of each core rotation, the resident will complete an end of rotation examination to test their medical knowledge related to the rotation.

Practice written examination and OSCEs, in accordance with the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada fellowship exam format, are held twice a year. One of these examinations in a joint written exam/OSCE with the University of Calgary and University of Saskatchewan.

The Division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Alberta, in partnership with the University of Toronto, has jointly hosted the biannual Canadian Comprehensive Review Course in PM&R. The very first review course was initiated in Edmonton in 2000.

Training Sites

The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency training program is based at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital site within Alberta Health Services. The Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital is the largest free-standing rehabilitation facility in Canada with 104 adult rehabilitation beds, 104 geriatric beds, and 18 pediatric rehabilitation beds of which 10 are inpatient and 8 day patient rehabilitation. The hospital serves the tertiary rehabilitation inpatient and outpatient needs of the northern half of Alberta and British Columbia as well as the Northwest Territories. An electromyography laboratory and urodynamic suite are located on site.

There are several community clinics within and around Edmonton that provide clinical experiences for the residents in musculoskeletal rehabilitation, neuromuscular disease/EMG, and interventional procedures.

There are 33 physiatrists actively involved with residency training and 17 residents enrolled in the training program at this time. The education to work ratio has been very much in favour of the residents.

Off-service rotations are undertaken at other teaching hospitals including the University of Alberta Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Misericordia Hospital, and Gray Nuns Hospital within the Edmonton zone.

Teaching Opportunities

Teaching fellow residents informally and formally as part of our academic half-day is an integral part of our program. Residents are also involved in teaching medical students on the wards and within the medical school core musculoskeletal and neurology blocks.

Social / Resident Well-Being

We have an active Social Rep that organizes formal and informal get-togethers throughout the year. These include several dinners each year involving both residents and staff, as well as bi-monthly "Polyphagics Anonymous" events where we try new restaurants around Edmonton as a resident group. Our resident group also organizes two retreats to the mountains each year as a chance to get away and spend time together outside of the hospital, with activities like skiing, hiking, boating, and white water rafting in the Canadian Rockies.

We also have a Resident Well-Being Committee Rep who organizes the yearly resident well-being events as well as recreational sports teams. As a group, we usually have teams in two rec sports leagues per year, most recently softball in the summer and ball hockey in the winter. As part of a continuing emphasis on resident well-being, counselling and workshops are available through the University of Alberta and we stock a number of books in our resident room library on the topic of physician well-being.

The residents have their own residents' room located in the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, where each resident has his/her own desk, along with a well-furnished common area used for eating meals, lounging, and watching TV. There is also a kitchenette area stocked with coffee pods, a fridge, and dishes for the group to use. In the residents' room is our Dr. L.A. Bellamy Library, which consists of various PM&R resources for our use. The residents' room is often used for parts of the weekly academic half-days.