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Army Air Force Navy

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Medical Specialist)

OFFICER | Full Time

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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialists (physiatrists) belong to the Medical Specialist occupation in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and provide care and clinical leadership in rehabilitation medicine at CAF Health Services facilities in the national capital region.  They work closely with primary health care providers and multidisciplinary teams to optimize patient care for CAF members. CAF Physiatrists may also participate in expanded venues in Canada and internationally and have the opportunity to be a leader within the CAF Health Services by serving as mentor and educator to the full spectrum of military health care providers and clients.

Their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Provide consultative and direct patient care services for CAF members in Canada;

  • Provide subject matter expert (SME) recommendations and advice;

  • Provide video assisted consultation to primary care providers and on-going care to members who may be be remotely located in Canada or on international operations;

  • Provide mentorship and education to other healthcare professionals; and

  • Contribute to the development and application of health care policy within the CAF

Work environment

Physiatrists in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) provide direct care to CAF members at the Canadian Forces Health Care Clinic in Ottawa, which includes physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessment capabilities. Working with primary care teams, mental health services and other CAF Medical Specialists, Physiatrists are integral to a supportive, multidisciplinary approach to patient care.  Video-assisted provision of care is used as a modality to reach members remotely located in Canada or on international operations. Participation in education and training tasks, as well as research opportunities, occur nationally and internationally.
To complement their role within CAF Health Services, physiatrists are embedded part time, as staff in tertiary care civilian rehabilitation centers and/or sports medicine facilities, working alongside their civilian colleagues. They may also be called upon to provide clinical expertise to policy application in reviews completed by the Directorate of Medical Policy (D Med Pol) of Health Services Head Quarters in Ottawa.

Career Overview


My name is Lieutenant-Colonel Markus Besemann, I’m head of the Canadian Forces Physical Medicine Rehab Program.

What attracted me early on was a sense of belonging to something bigger than just my little world, the sense of adventure that comes with being in uniform, and all the opportunities it provides to do things beyond the usual scope of medicine.

I’ve had the great privilege of working with a phenomenal team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists that deal with people that have survived trauma – like IED blasts, where people have lost legs, and have been rehabilitated back to the point where they literally functioned as well as they did prior to their amputation. That kind of experience is possible in the civilian sector, but not as common as we would see in the military sector, where people drive themselves often beyond what we would consider reasonable human limits.

I’ve had the great privilege of being part of expeditions targeted towards the healing of injured soldiers. So I’ve been to the North Pole, to Antarctica, to Nepal and to Kilimanjaro. Watching some of these people achieve their goal, which is climbing the mountain or reaching the North Pole, or being in environments that are quite austere, and teaching other, able-bodied civilians how to survive in those austere environments is the greatest gratification that you could possibly ask for. It’s like a father watching his children grow and blossom into amazing adults, and watching my patients evolve from the carnage of the battlefield to something like that is beyond words to compare.

For me, this has been a dream come true – it’s allowed me to do things that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to do. It’s allowed me to go to places, meet people, experience things that I certainly could not have done on my own as a physician in civilian practice, and to collaborate internationally and nationally with physicians, other colleagues, that I would not have had the opportunity to meet.

Pay and Benefits

A competitive compensation and benefits package is available for this medical specialization. Contact a Health Services Specialist Recruiter to learn more:


At the first available opportunity, you will complete Basic Military Officer Qualification training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. You will take the Condensed Health Services Basic Military Officer Qualification Training which consists of two weeks of Distance Learning and four weeks of in-house training in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.  Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Forces, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic Military Officer Qualification training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

All physicians attend the Basic Medical Officer Course (BMOC) at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre (CFHSTC) in Borden, Ontario. Here, they are introduced to the organizational structure and history of the Canadian Forces Medical Service and the unique circumstances of practicing military medicine. This course incorporates blended delivery modalities with on-line components and a residential component. In its entirety, the training lasts six weeks and is usually available twice per year, in one-, two- or three-week sessions. 

Entry plans

Occupation Full. Not currently taking applications.