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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

PM&R Program Pioneers

September 18, 2018

Most days of the week you can find Drs. Bryan Baker and Rohit Nalamasu, physiatrists, at Madonna’s Omaha Campus, engaged in all aspects of patient care including chart reviews, rounding, team meetings and patient therapy sessions. The second-year residents are involved in the inaugural Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) residency program, a partnership between Madonna and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). In March, six residents were matched to the program headed by Dr. Samuel Bierner, physiatrist, who chairs the department and is the Omaha Campus medical director. Dr. Michael Weaver, physiatrist, serves as the program director.

“The opportunity to be a program pioneer is exciting,” Nalamasu said. “We are forging uncharted territory in an emerging field that continues to evolve.”

The partnership is the only program in Nebraska and one of few in the region. While the specialty of providing rehabilitative care for patients isn’t new, becoming a physiatrist is becoming a more popular choice for medical school graduates due to its holistic approach to patient care. Physiatrists work with a team of experts including occupational, physical and speech therapists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, case managers and mission services to maximize each patient’s independence and functional potential.   

“PM&R’s focus on quality of life and improved functionality for the patient was really appealing to me. The combination of providing hope, being an advocate and the technological advancements make this an exciting field to be in right now,” Baker said. Nalamasu agrees, adding, “Rehab medicine is the perfect intersection of rehabilitation and technology. Receiving my undergraduate in biomedical engineering, this combines my love of technology with helping patients improve their quality of life.”  

Both agree that receiving hands-on training at both Madonna’s state-of-the-art campuses is beneficial.Baker is completing a three-month rotation working with stroke patients under the direction of Bierner. Meanwhile Nalamasu is on the brain injury unit with Dr. Christopher Anderson as attending physician. The two will then switch and complete additional rotations in pediatric rehabilitation. In Lincoln, they’ll work with spinal cord injury patients under the direction of Dr. Paul Krabbenhoft. First-year residents are working exclusively at UNMC and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Hospital. 

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but the people involved are passionate. I feel like there’s an opportunity to make a bigger impact on patients beyond those living in Lincoln and Omaha. Rather, we’re able to touch people throughout the region, helping them reach their maximum functional capacity and thus highest quality of life,” Nalamasu said. 

PM&R Residents work collaboratively with Madonna's interdisciplinary team under the direction of Omaha Campus Medical Director, Dr. Samuel Bierner.