Login

Difference Between Physiatrist & Rheumatologist

This article looks at the different conditions that physiatrists and rheumatologists treat, as well as the different training requirements and duties related to these professions.

View popular schools

Comparing Physiatrists to Rheumatologists

Physiatrists and rheumatologists are medical doctors who treat different conditions and have different training requirements. Physiatrists spend more time performing medical procedures while rheumatologists typically work in medical offices or clinics.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Physiatrists Medical degree; residency $203,977 15% (physicians and surgeons)
Rheumatologists Medical degree; residency; fellowship $196,873 17% (internists, general)

Sources: *PayScale; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Alternative Medicine
  • Chiropractor
  • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
  • Communication Disorders Sciences
  • Dental
  • Health and Fitness
  • Massage and Related Therapeutic Professions
  • Medical Administrative Services
  • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
  • Medical Assisting
  • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
  • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
  • Medical Informatics and Illustration
  • Medical Residency Programs
  • Mental Health Services
  • Nursing Professions
  • Nutrition Services
  • Optometric and Ophthalmic Services
  • Osteopathic Medicine - DO
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
  • Podiatry - DPM
  • Public Health and Safety
  • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences

Responsibilities of Physiatrists vs. Rheumatologists

Physiatrists and rheumatologists both see patients and are responsible for performing tests or referring patients for medical tests so that they can accurately diagnose the patient's condition. Once a patient is diagnosed they determine the best way to treat the patient's condition. Rheumatologists are also responsible for teaching their patients about their condition and how to manage it. They typically use non-invasive methods of treatment, such as developing dietary plans or providing patients with injections or medication. Physiatrists treat different conditions than rheumatologists treat and physiatrists are qualified to perform a wide range of medical tests and treatments on patients, including biopsies. Physiatrists also consult with other medical professionals such as occupational therapists to ensure that their patients receive thorough treatment.

Physiatrists

Physiatrists may also be known as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) doctors. The patients they treat may be affected by a number of issues ranging from brain damage to problems affecting their muscles or tendons. Like all medical doctors, physiatrists must earn a medical degree and complete a residency in their field of specialization. The residency for physiatrists lasts four years and those who wish to specialize further can pursue additional training in a number of subspecialties, such as traumatic brain injury.

Job responsibilities of a physiatrist include:

  • Evaluating patients
  • Reviewing medical files
  • Performing tests or medical procedures
  • Coordinating treatment plans with other medical professionals
  • Determining strategies to manage the patient's pain

Rheumatologists

When patients are experiencing difficulty moving due to joint pain they can be referred to a rheumatologist. Common conditions that rheumatologists treat include arthritis and gout. In order to become a rheumatologist it's necessary to earn a medical degree and complete extensive postgraduate training. This involves a residency in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in rheumatology. Those who wish to specialize further may opt to train as a pediatric rheumatologist and concentrate on treating children. Rheumatologists may work in hospitals, clinics or medical offices. They need to have good interpersonal skills because they spend a lot of time interacting with the patients they treat.

Job responsibilities of a rheumatologist include:

  • Assessing patients
  • Performing medical tests
  • Referring patients for medical tests
  • Identifying the patient's condition
  • Prescribing medication

Related Careers

If a career as a physiatrist or rheumatologist sounds appealing you may also want to use the links provided here to learn about the work that neurologists and physical therapists do. These professionals can be involved in diagnosing and treating some of the same conditions physiatrists and rheumatologists may treat and require comparable skills and training.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma of GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
    • Master of Science in Health Informatics

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
    • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Flexible MBA - Health Care Management - Campus
    • Flexible MBA - Health Care Management - Hybrid
    • Flexible MBA - Health Care Management - Online
    • MS in Health Care Management - Campus
    • MS in Health Care Management - Hybrid
    • MS in Health Care Management - Online
    • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Biotechnology Enterprise

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • MBA Healthcare Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MBA in Healthcare Management
    • Master of Health Administration
    • Executive Certificate in Health Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MBA Health Care Management Concentration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?