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I recently got exposed to physiatry (physical medicine and rehabilitation) and am interested in pursuing it. However, given that it is such a small specialty (and pretty competitive in recent years), I am not sure if I'd feel comfortable just gunning for it with no backups. As such, I have some questions about the elective strategy for CaRMS:

1. How many weeks of electives does one need to do in physiatry to be competitive? From past posts, it seems that 4 weeks is the bare minimum (2 reference letters), but I am wondering if this threshold has increased due to the increasing competitiveness of the specialty. 

2. If one does 10 weeks of neurology and 6 weeks of physical medicine (or even a 12/4 split between neurology and physiatry), would this be seen as using physiatry as a "backup" and therefore looked upon less favorably?

3. What are some specialties that an applicant can realistically apply to in conjunction with physiatry? Some combinations that I can think of include neurology/physiatry, internal/physiatry, family/physiatry.

4. If one were to "gun" for physiatry, should one do all of the electives in physiatry? Or should one dedicate several weeks to neurology, internal medicine, orthopedics, etc.?

Thanks in advance! :)

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Hello! I didn't end up going into physiatry but I did apply to it in one of its most competitive years. I can only really speak to the process I had done, but hopefully it helps answer some of your questions.

1. I did 3 electives in physiatry (6 weeks) and received all but 2 interviews for the schools I had applied to.

2. This depends on how you can sell yourself in your personal letters in my opinion. If you have a good story for why you did those electives and how it would make you a better physiatrist then most programs seem to be okay with that. I had more electives in another specialty as well but was able to spin it! The other thing is that there may be restrictions on how much of one category of specialty you can do for electives. This was the case at my school so you could only do max. 12 weeks in one category. I would check that with your school.

3. Those combinations are definitely all things you could spin. Having done family having a background in PM &R has been really helpful! 

4. This depends on your comfort level/backups/interests. I chose to do several MSK related fields including rheumatology and orthopedics and really enjoyed it!

If you have any questions, let me know!

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