Q: What is a Physiatrist? 

A: A physiatrist is a physician who, following medical school, completes a residency program in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). A physiatrist then becomes board certified in PM&R. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is a broad field which aims to enhance and restore functional ability and quality of life to those with physical impairments or disabilities. PM&R is one of 24 specialties of medicine certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The term physiatrist sounds like, and can be confused with, podiatrist (a foot doctor) and psychiatrist or psychologist (mental health doctors), however these are completely different specialties.

Q: What is a DO? 

A: A DO is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. There are two types of physicians licensed to practice medicine in the United States, MD’s and DO’s. DO’s go to an Osteopathic medical school and MD’s go to an allopathic medical school. Osteopathic and allopathic medical schools are extremely similar and cover almost exactly the same material, however DO’s receive extra training in hands-on techniques for treating physical pain and dysfunction. Osteopathic medical schools also tend to emphasize a wholistic approach and often use the model of “help the body heal itself”. Following medical school MD’s and DO’s go on to complete their training in an identical fashion, often within the same programs, and can become a specialist in any field of medicine or surgery. Dr. Shoemaker took the USMLE (the same board certification exam taken by students of an MD school) and completed both his residency and fellowship training at allopathic programs.

Q: What is a fellowship? 

A: A fellowship is optional or extra training that a physician can complete following a residency program. Fellowship programs are usually very competitive to get accepted into and most physicians do not complete this extra training. Graduates of fellowship programs are often considered “subspecialists”. Dr. Shoemaker completed a fellowship in Sports Medicine and Interventional Spine.