CONTEMPO last reviewed the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation (physiatry) in October 1986.1 During that seemingly brief span of time, changes in the field have been remarkable. It has expanded in numbers, in breadth, and in scientific application.
The most obvious track of the numerical growth in physiatry can be seen through the rapid increase in residency positions.2 In the 1985-1986 academic year, there were 819 residency positions available; 795 of these (97%) were filled. For the 1988-1989 academic year, there were 1005 positions offered, and 984 (98%) were filled. This is an increase of 23% in only 3 years. Similarly, there has been an increasing percentage of American medical graduates filling these positions. In 1981, only 51% of residents were graduates of American medical schools. For the 1988-1989 academic year, 91% are American graduates.
The specialty is composed largely of young physicians. In 1988, Gonzalez et