In 1981, Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation opened its doors in Dallas to 25 patients. Just five years later, the hospital had expanded to 74 beds, establishing itself as a regional center for the care and treatment of individuals with spinal cord, brain and other catastrophic injuries. Today, Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) offers a unique network of four inpatient rehab hospitals and more than 107 outpatient centers as well as highly specialized neurorehabilitation, home health, wound care and other programs across north and central Texas.
Among the driving forces behind BSWIR’s national leadership is its commitment to education and training, in particular its physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) residency program.
In collaboration with Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC), this program provides a highly structured, extensive - and intensive - academic experience. Since its inception in 1955, the PM&R Residency program has helped train nearly 150 physicians, including Rita Hamilton, D.O., chief medical officer, BSWIR, and residency program director, BUMC.
“I’m sure I can speak for my colleagues in saying we are grateful for the training we received and proud of the quality education this program continues to offer,” said Dr. Hamilton. “Ours is not a large program — we accept only three residents each year from a pool of over 400 candidates. Yet we provide an exceptional academic experience, preparing physicians toaddress patients’ complex needs, render quality care and explore new avenues of treatment through research. Our goal is to provide them with the tools needed to succeed in their careers.”
The COVID factor
The past two years, however, proved more demanding than usual for the program’s medical residents. Due to COVID-19, learning shifted from in-person to online platforms and some critical hands-on training was impeded. For example, opportunities to examine patients in the outpatient setting, perform certain procedures and master the relationship-building skills between the patient and physician were limited. Some courses were divided into small sections to maintain social distancing and several research projects were put on hold or redesigned.
On the other hand, the program was able to provide an enhanced curriculum by bringing in subject matter experts from across the country via online sessions. Trainees also benefitted from exposure to tele-medicine, learning to optimize virtual patient visits. Above all, they gained valuable experience in dealing with and adapting to health care crises that will serve them well going forward.
“It’s no surprise that medical rehabilitation played a key role during COVID. The complex deficits COVID survivors faced — from general debility, cognitive and mobility issues to pulmonary, cardiac and other sequelae — is what we are trained to treat. By leveraging our skills and expertise, we made a significant difference in the lives of these patients, as well as those with brain and spinal cord injuries, stroke and other diagnoses. Our residents learned from all this,” said Dr. Hamilton.
The past few years have presented some unprecedented academic challenges, but in the end, as Dr. Hamilton noted, “We expect our residents to work hard, learn vigorously and demonstrate their passion for the field of medical rehabilitation... and each year they manage to exceed our expectations.”
We take this opportunity to salute the recent and upcoming graduates of our PM&R program — those individuals who persevered, accepted every challenge, overcame COVID and are stepping into the spotlight as tomorrow’s physician leaders.
Austin Henke, D.O.
Accepted Spinal Cord Injury Medicine Fellowship at the University of Miami
Riley Johnson, D.O.
Accepted Pain Medicine Fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University
Hayden Smith, D.O.
Will enter private practice in Fort Worth, TX
Arfan Qureshi, D.O.
Completing a Pain Medicine Fellowship at University of Alabama-Birmingham
Joseph Salganik, D.O.
Affiliated with Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center, Fruita, CO
Ryan Whitmer, D.O.
Completing an Interventional Spine and Musculoskeletal Medicine Fellowship at UTSW, Dallas, TX
Justin Bishop, M.D.
Affiliated with Methodist Health System, Dallas, TX
Cindy Pham, M.D.
Affiliated with Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California Permanente Medical Group, City of Industry, CA
Maria Pollifrone, D.O.
Completed a Brain Injury Medicine Fellowship at BUMC/BSWIR and currently practices at UT Health-San Antonio
The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency at Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health, is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). This three-year, comprehensive and structured training program accepts three post-graduate year two (PGY2) positions per year. For more information, visit https://www.bswrehab.com/research-education/residency/pmr-physician/
Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) offers a unique network of four inpatient rehab hospitals and more than 107 outpatient centers as well as highly specialized neurorehabilitation, home health, wound care and other programs across north and central Texas.