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Rehabilitation Medicine

About the specialty

Rehabilitation medicine is the speciality for any doctor who wishes to practice person-centred holistic medicine. Its central concern is to optimise a patient’s engagement socially, in line with their values and wishes, their autonomy (ability to make choices about their life), and their freedom from pain and distress. Its attention is focused upon understanding the nature and cause of any disability arising as part of illness.

Rehabilitation succeeds when undertaken by a multidisciplinary team; the doctor is an important member of the team. The specific roles of a doctor relate to their expert knowledge about (a) disease, its natures, cause, prognosis, and specific management and (b) the process of rehabilitation, which training in rehabilitation gives them. No other profession has specific training in rehabilitation.

The new curriculum, which was implemented in 2021, emphasises the broad scope of rehabilitation. It applies equally across all ages from birth to death, it applies equally across all diseases and at all stages of any illness, and it applies in all settings from intensive care to the person’s home. Rehabilitation is interested in all aspects of a person’s illness from direct motor losses, through all psychological and practical consequences, to the effects on friends, family and others. The training programme reflects this broad scope.

Currently much of a consultant’s work will relate to neurological conditions, including spinal cord injury, as well as the results of trauma, including people with amputation, and musculoskeletal conditions and chronic pain. Other areas of interest are developing. For example rehabilitation after trauma is growing quite fast, and rehabilitation for people who have had Covid-19 is now becoming vital. Other growth areas include cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation, psychological and functional disorders, delivering rehabilitation outside hospital settings, tele-rehabilitation and the use of technology. Individual consultants, after training, will usually develop more specialised areas of interest.

Entry into rehabilitation training programmes is possible following successful completion of both a foundation programme and one of the following core training programmes:

  • Internal Medicine Training stage 1 - two years
  • ACCS-Internal Medicine - three years
  • Level 1 Paediatrics training - three years
  • Core Surgical Training - two years
  • Core level training in Anaesthetics - two years
  • Core Psychiatry Training - three years
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology training - two years
  • Ophthalmic Specialist Training - two years
  • General Practice training - three years


The curriculum for each specialty defines the process of training and the competencies needed for the award of a certificate of completion of training (CCT). The 2021 curriculum and supporting documents are given below. 

Rehabilitation Medicine 2021 curriculum

Rehabilitation Medicine 2021 CiPs mapping to previous curriculum competencies

The 2010 curriculum is available below. Previous versions of the curriculum are no longer available online but copies can be requested from

ARCP Decision Aids

The ARCP decision aid for each specialty defines the targets that have to be achieved for a satisfactory ARCP outcome at the end of each training year.

Rehabilitation Medicine 2021 ARCP decision aid - updated June 2024

The decision aid for doctors remaining on the previous curriculum appears below. 



Forms and guidance

Rough Guide and 2021 Syllabus

The SAC for Rehabilitation Medicine has produced the following documents to support doctors training in Rehabilitation Medicine and their trainers (Clinical Supervisors, Educational Supervisors, and Training Programme Directors). They should be used in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Medicine curriculum.

Rough Guide to Rehabilitation Medicine 2021 curriculum

Rehabilitation Medicine 2021 syllabus for training