Dr Roth with a nurse and PT


Roth Rounds: Transformation and Preservation

Posted By Dr. Elliot Roth Give Now


After a few years of being away, We’re Back! I was very excited to learn that Dr. Monica Rho and others in our program had plans to restart and reinvigorate this Alumni Newsletter. As many of you know, this has been a valuable vehicle for all alumni and our program to share “What’s Up?”

The past few years have been a time of exhilarating transformation for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, now called the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, and the Northwestern PM&R Residency Program. As always, our institutions’ approach has been based on a philosophy of the importance of being bold and innovative in implementing changes, while simultaneously preserving the core of what is important and fundamental to our success. This philosophy has been applied to our changes in the PM&R Residency Program, as well.

As many of you know, after 30 years of extraordinarily strong leadership as Program Director of the PM&R Residency program, Dr. James Sliwa stepped down from this position on June 30, 2017. It is readily acknowledged that Jim developed and led the program to become an exemplary PM&R residency training program, and one of the most highly sought-after training experiences in the US. And, as we know, he did this with a great degree of innovation, organization, attention to detail, generosity, a sense of caring about each trainee, a personable demeanor, and a tremendous sense of humor. We were fortunate to celebrate Jim and his many accomplishments at a special surprise get-together event on Friday evening, September 15, 2017. That event also marked the unveiling of a Resident Lounge in the new building that was named for Dr. Sliwa. For those of you who were there to honor Jim, we (and Jim) appreciate your presence, and it was clear that he was touched by the event. For all who attended, the experience served as a reunion for old friends and new colleagues to meet and share experiences.

We are pleased that Dr. Monica Rho assumed leadership as Residency Training Program Director as of July 1, 2017. She brings to the position new energy and insight, a tremendous depth and breadth of experiences, unusually strong teaching skills, and a passion for innovating in medical education. For those of you who know Monica, you will not be surprised by her ascendency to this role, in view of her many accomplishments in education, research, and patient care, all done in a short time period.

For those of you who are as yet unfamiliar with Monica, a little background might help: She completed her residency training with us in 2009, also serving as Chief Resident. She then completed Sports Medicine fellowship training at Washington University Department of Orthopedic Surgery in St. Louis, followed by recruitment to our Faculty and Medical Staff in 2010. Since joining us, she has developed and led education programs for medical students, residents, and fellows in musculoskeletal physical examination, musculoskeletal ultrasound, and musculoskeletal injures. She was awarded “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” in 2012 and 2014 and “Mentor of the Year” in 2013, 2015, and 2016 by the Residents in our program. Last year, Dr. Rho was also named Section Chief of the Musculoskeletal Medicine section of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. She has distinguished herself as the Head Team Physician for the US Men’s Paralympic Soccer National Team, and she accompanied the team to the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Monica was recently named to the Medical Advisory Board of US Soccer, and she is the Company Physician for the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. In 2011, Dr. Rho was awarded a prestigious NIH Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program grant to study the neuromuscular control of the hip in femoroacetabular impingement. She currently leads research projects on injury epidemiology with the Joffrey Ballet and US Soccer, and she is working with the US Paralympic Track and Basketball Teams. A particularly interesting line of her research focuses on the application of musculoskeletal ultrasound to assess and improve the performance of the musculoskeletal physical examination performed by medical trainees.

In her role as Residency Program Director, Dr. Rho will be assisted by Associate Residency Program Directors Dr. Leslie Rydberg and Christopher Reger, both of whom have contributed to residency leadership over the past few years. Also simultaneous to the appointment of Dr Rho to the residency leadership position, Dr. Sliwa has been appointed to the new position of Associate Chair for Medical Education, for which he will provide oversight and support for the PM&R Medical Student Program, directed by Drs. Rydberg and Priya Mhatre, the PM&R Residency Training Program, and the 5 post-residency Fellowship Training programs (in Spinal Cord Medicine led by Dr. David Chen, Brain Injury Medicine now led by Dr. David Ripley, Sports Medicine led by Dr. Joseph Ihm, Pain Medicine led by Dr. Jim Atchison, and Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine now led by Dr. Melanie Rak). We are fortunate to be able to take advantage of Dr. Sliwa’s expertise, experience, and insight in this important new position.

As you can see, we are enthusiastic about these proposed changes of leadership and structure of the training programs. They promise to enable us to enhance our impact on the field and on the care of people with functional loss into the future. We expect that these transformations will carry us and the specialty well into the foreseeable future by providing excellent training to future generations of physicians. As always, we welcome your comments.


Elliot J. Roth, MD
The Paul B. Magnuson Professor and Chairman
Department of PM&R

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