Health Service Categories and Careers


Rehabilitation Medicine (RM) is the medical specialty concerned with restoring and improving function and wellbeing for patients who have reduced health, function, or pain, as a result of chronic disease, injury or illness, congenital disorder, disability or life circumstances. It builds on knowledge from internal medicine, incorporating a broader understanding of functional anatomy, psychosocial wellbeing, and surgery. Rehabilitation medicine manages a diverse range of conditions and provides acute, integrated, preventative, and ongoing care to patients to improve their quality of life, including their function and cognition, and their participation in work, recreation and social activities. It seeks to maintain health and prevent secondary complications. It looks at managing disability across physical, psychosocial and vocational domains, and services are coordinated with other medical, allied health and community services to support patient outcomes. RM treatments and therapies include therapeutic exercises; provision of orthotics, prosthetics, and other rehabilitation equipment and aids; acute and chronic pain management, injury prevention, conditioning and fitness, non-surgical spine medicine, rehabilitation management of occupational and sports injuries; and therapeutic and diagnostic injection techniques. Routine laboratory and imaging studies are used to guide diagnoses and evaluate musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. RM services are provided in acute, outpatient and community settings, and can also involve telehealth and outreach programs.

Rehabilitation Medicine Jobs

Rehabilitation Physicians work with patients who have medical, musculoskeletal, neurological and neuromuscular disorders, arising from injury, illness, congenital or acquired disability, or life circumstances. They manage inpatients, outpatients and community patients. They help their patients maximise their functional ability, independence and quality of life, and help to prevent further disease or functional decline. Rehabilitation Physicians can provide acute care as well as ongoing and integrated health care. They provide assessment, diagnoses, and rehabilitation services, tailoring management plans to the individual. They collaborate with GPs and other medical specialists, and connect patients to medical, allied health and community support services. They work in multi-disciplinary teams and lead teams of rehabilitation therapists and nurses. Services are provided in a range of settings including in the home, public and private hospitals, and community rehabilitation centres and clinics. Practice involves assessments of function, disability and impairment, prosthetic and orthotic prescription, wheelchair and mobility aids, exercise therapy, pain management and other therapies. RM Physicians provide rehabilitative care of patients with amputations or limb deficiency; rehabilitative care of patients with brain and spinal cord disorders; post fracture and joint arthroplasty rehabilitative care; management of tissue disorders and wound care, rehabilitation for older people, including the management of geriatric syndromes; rehabilitative care of pulmonary, cardiac, and oncological conditions; rehabilitation of patients who are debilitated as a result of multi-system disease or prolonged immobilisation; and management of congenital developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy. Rehabilitation physicians usually work with adult patients, including adolescents and the elderly, while RM Paediatricians work with paediatric patients. To pursue a career in this field, registered doctors who have completed 2years of postgraduate supervised training in general medical and surgical areas, can apply to RACP to undertake Advanced Training in General Rehabilitation Medicine, a 4 year program which leads to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Registrars (Rehabilitation Medicine) are registered doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can now undertake specialist/or vocational training positions to broaden and refine their scope of practice and gain experience, skills and competency in their chosen area of medicine. Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff. They work in a range of primary, secondary, tertiary, clinical, laboratory and acute care settings, in hospitals, private practices and community clinics. Registered doctors at this level can further their career as Hospital Doctors or Career Medical Officers or pursue a medical specialty with further training and specialist registration. Registrars who want to pursue a career in rehabilitation medicine can undertake training with RACP. They work under rehabilitation physicians/specialist consultants and develop procedural skills, clinical expertise, and valuable work experience in rehabilitation medicine.

Nurses (Rehabilitation) provide integrated nursing care in rehabilitation health care settings, including geriatric, palliative care, acute and subacute hospital settings, community clinics and residences. They work in multidisciplinary teams providing rehabilitation and health services to patients following acute illness or injury, helping to improve their independence, health and wellbeing. They work directly with patients who have a diverse range of medical conditions, such as brain trauma, orthopaedic injury, stroke, neurological disorders, addiction, or cardiac conditions. They may be involved in assessment and care planning, post-surgery recovery and rehabilitation, return to work and injury management, alcohol and other drug detoxification, geriatric evaluation, transition care programs, and community reintegration.