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A discussion on Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)

Last Modified: February 15, 2024

People of Parkview


This story originally appeared in Input Fort Wayne. 

Parkview Health’s Graduate Medical Education program is now entering its third year and is showing no signs of slowing down. The program is based at Parkview Hospital Randallia and allows resident physicians – or doctors in training who have graduated from medical school – the opportunity to continue their education at multiple Parkview facilities. 

Parkview’s residency programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and include internal medicine, general surgery, OB/GYN, and transitional year. The newest residency program to be added, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), welcomes its first class of residents in July.

Input Fort Wayne sat down with the program’s director and PM&R section chief, Dr. Kyle Littell, to learn more about the program and what it means to bring a new class of physicians-in-residency to our region.   

IFW: You’re an experienced physiatrist who is leading a PM&R program. Can you explain what that entails and why it is important? 

KL: PM&R is a broad specialty that serves a variety of patients who are working to restore movement and function following an injury or diagnosis. This might include those with chronic pain, neurological disorders, amputations, brain or spinal cord injuries, stroke, or surgery. After such a diagnosis, we provide a holistic approach to care for patients to them get back home, to work or to their daily routine. 

Physical medicine also encompasses musculoskeletal medicine, similar to sports medicine, for non-surgical care management, such as referral to appropriate therapies or injections. There are many practitioners who utilize rehabilitation to help prevent or prolong the time until surgery is needed for cases such as knee or back pain.

I currently practice in inpatient or acute rehabilitation. This means I work much like a hospitalist to provide medical care, working closely with a team of therapists and other expert caregivers who are working around the patient to get the patient back on their feet. 

Similarly, on the outpatient side, we have an interdisciplinary team of caregivers to provide care in a variety of clinics for patient with amputations, spinal injuries, traumatic brain injury, concussion, and many other types of disorders. It is important to us that we approach each case on an individual basis and work with our patients to set their goals. Their goals help to guide our rehabilitation plan and we all work together to achieve them. 

IFW: Though your most recent role was in Indianapolis, your education and training have taken you to other areas of the country. What drew you to Fort Wayne in particular? 

KL: I am originally from Tennessee, and I completed medical school in California. I did my residency in Colorado and eventually landed in Indianapolis. I was drawn north to Fort Wayne by the opportunity to truly build a residency program from the ground up. That’s a unique opportunity in one’s career! 

I also enjoy both clinical and administrative work, so the idea that I could continue to practice as a physiatrist but also develop new processes and curriculum for residents definitely piqued my interest. 

Finally, I was drawn to Fort Wayne because of Parkview’s vision for the future. They are committed to graduate medical education and growing their residency programs because they see the need for more physicians and advanced practice providers. I wanted to be part of the solution to create a sustainable talent pipeline in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. 

IFW: When you decided to take this job, was there anything about Parkview that stood out compared to other health systems? 

KL: I was really impressed by Parkview’s leadership. The concept of a dyad leadership structure, creating an ongoing partnership between physician leaders and administrative leaders, was appealing to me. They also have a variety of practitioners in multiple specialties who are eager to collaborate and share their knowledge. That support is so valuable. 

It was also made clear that we wanted feedback from our residents, which is so important. We need their feedback to understand how to grow and make our educational experience as strong as it can be. I enjoy learning others’ perspectives. So, as I lead this program, I want to hear from the learners and ensure that they’re heard. I have an open-door policy to all (residents, providers, support teams and others) and want to be flexible along the way based on their feedback.

IFW: Since moving here, what are some favorite places, events or restaurants that you’ve enjoyed? 

KL: My wife and I like to go on date nights at area restaurants. So far, we’ve really enjoyed Nawa, Hoppy Gnome, and Passion Fin. We also saw a local comedy show that did not disappoint. 

As a physiatrist, I also had time to visit Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities. It is an amazing place for people with disabilities to go and learn sports, work out, connect and create friendships. It is one of only a few Paralympic training centers in the nation, so it is exciting to have this in Fort Wayne. 

We have two children, who are six and four, so we’ve also had a lot of fun at Science Central and the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. We moved to Fort Wayne in September, so we arrived just in time for the Wild Zoo Halloween event. It’s been fun to explore Fort Wayne, and we’re really enjoying the city.  

I am eager to see our residents become engrained in this community, too, through their work, volunteerism, family, friendships, and more. It’s true that physicians are likely to end up practicing where they complete their residency. We have an opportunity to build a pipeline of highly trained physicians who will be able to care for this community for years to come.  

IFW: What’s something you’ve learned (about medicine, or life in general) that you hope to pass on to your future residents? 

KL: When an opportunity arises, take the time to evaluate it. Don’t be reactive. Lots of opportunities come up in healthcare – such as those related to quality, research, promotions, etc. – and we instinctively react and say yes. As caregivers, we should be mindful of taking on too much and thoroughly evaluate all opportunities before making a decision. 

Also, seek advice and mentorship. Mentorship is important and I’m eager to bring that to our residency program, alongside other physicians, as our residents grow professionally and personally.

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