Ask any pioneer about forging new paths and they’ll tell you the task is not easy. Add to that the complexities of a pandemic and navigating the journey may seem nearly impossible. But that hasn’t stopped physiatrists Drs. Bryan Baker and Rohit Nalamasu from pursuing their goals. The pair are the first residents to graduate from the physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) residency program, a joint effort between Madonna and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). In July, the program will welcome four new residents, bringing the total number of program participants to 16.
“The opportunity to be a program pioneer has been exciting,” Nalamasu said. “We have forged uncharted territory in an emerging field that continues to evolve."
The two have spent the past few years engaging in all aspects of patient care including chart reviews, daily rounding, team meetings and patient therapy sessions. Baker says a typical day starts at 8 a.m. and after the morning routine, afternoons are spent in the hospital or in the clinic. After a dinner break it’s back to the books or preparing for weekly lectures. Dr. Samuel Bierner serves in a dual role: medical director for Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital Omaha Campus and the PM&R department chair for UNMC. Dr. Michael Weaver, the PM&R residency program director has also proved beneficial to their residency experience.
The PM&R program is the only one in Nebraska and the first of its kind in a five-state upper Midwest region. Residents are given the opportunity to participate in the care of pediatric and adult patients recovering from stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury and other complex medical issues using specialized equipment in state-of-the-art facilities. Madonna's Omaha Campus serves as the primary training hospital with expanded training opportunities in the campus’ newly opened 7,800 square foot Physicians Clinic. Residents also work with spinal cord injury patients on the Lincoln Campus and are involved in research opportunities through Madonna’s Research Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering.
In addition to learning and research opportunities, the PM&R residency provided leadership roles with Baker serving as the very first Chief of PM&R. “I’ve learned how to be a good physiatrist. I’ve gotten a well-rounded education. I feel comfortable in going into any inpatient setting that I would be interested in and be comfortable in managing patients from medical management to rehabilitation management.”
“Working with the various faculty has been beneficial for my professional growth, learning how both academic PM&R and private PM&R is practiced at both Omaha and Lincoln campuses,” Nalamasu said.
Outside of work, the two have enjoyed calling Omaha home. They’ve raised families here and when possible, taken advantage of all the city has to offer. Upon graduation, both are pursuing separate fellowship opportunities: Baker is headed for Cleveland Clinic for a Spine fellowship and Nalamasu is headed to a Pain fellowship at University of California-Davis. Congratulations to you both and best of luck in the future.