Lectures and Activities


The didactics portion of the residency consists of a broad range of topics and activities based on the educational guidelines set by the American Board of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Didactics are scheduled as weekly course-based lectures facilitated by a faculty member. The series is completed in 18 months allowing each resident to be exposed to each course twice.

Courses include:

  • Introduction to PM&R
  • General Rehabilitation
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Neurorehabilitation
  • Pediatric Rehabilitation
  • Pain Medicine
  • EMG
  • Musculoskeletal/Sports Medicine
  • Orthotics and Prosthetics
  • Geriatric and Cancer Rehabilitation
  • Ultrasound
  • Spasticity

Board reviews are held in preparation for the PM&R written board examination.


Research Requirement

Residents are expected to complete a research project by graduation. In PGY-2, residents are schedule for a month-long research rotation dedicated to an academic project such as longitudinal research, basic science, book chapters, case series, and more. The program’s research has resulted in national presentations for many of our residents—several of whom have won Best Research Paper at the Association of Academic Physiatrists national meeting.

Quality Improvement

All residents are expected to complete a QI project by graduation. QI projects may be completed in a small or large group and should be introduced towards the end of PGY-2 and developed in PGY-3. The QI project can be completed in tandem with the required research project. Recent graduates have been recognized on a national level as part of the Practice Improvement Project spotlight by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.


  • Anatomy Cadaver Course – Six-week intensive study of neuromuscular anatomy led by faculty and senior residents, includes ultrasound guided injections with fresh frozen cadavers
  • Prosthetics and Orthotics Workshop – annual opportunity to visit local prosthetics companies for observation of the manufacturing and fitting of devices
  • MSK Ultrasound Workshops – hands-on experience with attending oversight
  • Spasticity Workshop - annual educational experience focusing on introduction to chemodenervation, clinical assessment of spasticity, and ultrasound-guided approaches
  • Joint Injection Workshop – hands-on experience at the Wiser Simulation Center led by senior residents and the program directors
  • Professional Development Lecture Series – series led by guest speakers and department faculty covering a wide variety of topics including: statistics for PM&R physicians; billing and coding; medico-legal issues for physiatrists; the culture of patient safety; coping with stressful situations; ethical dilemmas; and volunteer opportunities in Pittsburgh
  • Monthly Clinical Case Reviews – led by our Associate Director
  • Radiology Rounds – cases presented by residents involving radiological images, EMG, or clinical pearls
  • Resident Journal Club – led by a PGY-2 resident with faculty mentorship and guidance
  • Monthly Chair Lectures – lectures or discussions with Dr. Sowa covering current PM&R news and events

Grand Rounds

  • Resident Grand Rounds — Scheduled during PGY-3, each resident presents a lecture on a topic of their choosing with faculty mentor guidance.
  • Panther Rehab Grand Rounds — Invited guest speakers from other institutions and/or departments are invited on a monthly basis to present lectures covering topics relevant to PM&R. For more information about upcoming Panther Rounds click here.


UPMC PM&R Educational Leadership Track
This track is for residents and fellows who are interested in pursuing careers in academic medicine. Through experiential learning and small group work you will improve your teaching skills and learn about and implement new skills in curricular design, learner assessment, creating equitable learning environments, educational scholarship, mentoring, and other leadership skills. We also focus on decoding the complexities of academic health care systems and career planning. You will receive individualized mentoring as you design and implement a longitudinal project such as an innovative workshop or tackle an educationally related research question. The track features complement the courses already available in our training program.
Track Features:
  • Half day per month protected time to participate in small group seminars on educational skill development
  • Multiple opportunities to put into practice what you are learning and receive feedback on your teaching skills through the teaching of medical students, other health care professionals, your fellow resident, and attendings
  • A mentored longitudinal educational scholarship project
UPMC PM&R Administrative Leadership Track
This track promotes leadership development for residents interested in pursuing careers in healthcare administration. The track features complement the courses already available in our training program.
Track Features:
  • PGY-3 Orientation: 5 protected two-hour blocks during the first 3 months of PGY-3 to establish leadership fundamentals and initial project development
  • One-month Administrative Rotation in PGY-4.
  • Protected time for participation in UPMC Rehabilitation and System meetings
  • A mentored longitudinal administrative project
UPMC PM&R Research Track
The goal of this program is to promote research development for residents interested in pursuing research as a part of an academic career. This track will compliment other resident research experiences already offered as a part of our training program.
Track Features:
  • One-month research rotations in each training year
  • Protected research time based on assigned rotation
  • Mentorship from experienced research faculty
  • Funding for presenting research at national conferences