First Residency Program in Connecticut for Rehabilitation Physicians Announced

A joint partnership with University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Hartford Hospital, Gaylord Hospital, and UConn Health

Academic building at UConn Health on October 19, 2017. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

The University of Connecticut School of Medicine today announced the first and only Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) Residency in Connecticut created in partnership with Hartford Hospital, Gaylord Hospital, and UConn Health. The joint program will have a tremendous impact on the health and quality of life of Connecticut residents, as well as the aging population nationwide, by helping fill the need for additional PM&R physicians.

“This program is a testament to the quality and diversity of health care provided here in Connecticut,” says Gov. Ned Lamont. “Partnerships like this showcase the true collaborative spirit of our residents – particularly our young people. I continue to believe Connecticut is a great place to live and work, and full of opportunity for residents of all ages.”

PM&R, also known as Rehab Medicine/Physiatry, is the branch of medicine emphasizing the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders that produce temporary or permanent functional impairment.

The mission of the PM&R residency program is to train physicians capable of delivering comprehensive, high-quality, evidence-based, and compassionate care to individuals with disabilities and impairments from disease and injury.

PM&R is unique among medical fields in that its area of expertise addresses the function of the whole patient, as compared with a focus on an organ system or systems. Suffering an acute injury or living with chronic illness can affect the way people move and perceive themselves and their role in the home and in the workplace. With an aging population and more than 25% of individuals self-identifying as having a physical disability, the patient-centered care that physiatrists provide is vital to maximizing patients’ independence and mobility with the goal of returning them to their roles in society.

“The UConn School of Medicine is proud to be the sponsor of the state’s first and only Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program. The partners in this endeavor, Hartford Hospital, Gaylord Hospital, and John Dempsey Hospital at UConn Health, have put together a dynamic program that will ensure that the training of the next generation of physiatrists will be able to meet the ever-expanding need for these specialists in the state of Connecticut,” says Dr. Steven Angus, designated institutional official, UConn School of Medicine.

The four-year program will support a total of 16 residents annually at full enrollment. The first residents will begin their Transitional Internship year in July 2022 at UConn Health and Hartford Hospital, followed by their first exposure to PM&R, beginning with rotations at Hartford Hospital Inpatient Rehabilitation and Gaylord Hospital in July 2023. Additional participating sites include Connecticut Children’s, Hospital for Special Care, and the Veterans Administration.

“Our program is committed to take on every challenge of – and with – our patients, and is dedicated to support them in their journey to restoring function and quality of life/ wellness,” says Dr. Subramani Seetharama, program director, chief, Division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, medical director, Hartford Healthcare Rehabilitation Network and the THOCC Spine Center.

PM&R residents will manage the care of patients with disabilities as part of an interdisciplinary care team and will engage in frequent discussions about the ethical principles foundational to the profession. Residents will learn to advocate for their patients and work with team members to provide the care and resources that allow patients to maintain the highest level of function and independence possible.

“As a rehabilitation-focused healthcare system, Gaylord Hospital is uniquely positioned to provide the hands-on training that the next generation of physiatrists needs to serve our community, not only in Connecticut but also throughout the country. Gaylord offers a broad continuum of care including inpatient and outpatient care, transitional living for brain injury and stroke, and the largest adaptive sports program in the region. These settings, coupled with Gaylord’s extraordinary and experienced staff, create the ideal learning environment to understand how physiatry plays a vital role in patients’ improved function and quality of life,” says Dr. David Rosenblum, Gaylord Hospital, associate program director, PM&R residency and site director.

The PM&R Residency program aims to develop graduates that have a unique perspective in caring for patients with disabilities influenced by local, regional, and international experiences and participate in the Physician Leadership Development Institute to help develop a new generation of physician leaders promoting the positive transformation of the quality of human-centered care for people with disabilities.

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