Dr. Josephine Jordan Buchanan, 71, a pioneer in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, died Friday at the Ilif Nursing Home in Dunn Loring, Va. She had diabetes.

Dr. Buchanan joined D.C. General Hospital, which was then named Gallinger Hospital, in 1950. She established the hospital's department of physical medicine and rehabilitation and its work therapy programs and served as chief of the department until 1962.

A 1956 Washington Post story reported that before Dr. Buchanan's department was established in 1950, 92 percent of stroke patients at the hospital went home bedridden. Five years later, 90 percent of 800 stroke patients were able to leave their beds before being released.

In 1947, Dr. Buchanan became the first medical director of the then newly established rehabilitation center in Fishersville, Va. Earlier, she spend three years as clinical director of the Baruch Center of Physical Medicine at the Medical College of Virginia.

For 10 years before her retirement in 1973, she was chairman of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Fairfax Hospital.

She also served for a number of years as medical officer in the U.S. Public Health Service's division of chronic diseases and tuberculosis.

In 1962, Dr. Buchanan was named Physician of the Year by the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped. She was honored in 1952 by the D.C. Medical Society for her "outstanding efforts to promote employment of the physically handicapped in Washington."

Dr. Buchanan was born in Americus, Ga., and graduated from Brenau College in Gainsville, Ga. She earned a master's degree from the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tenn., and a medical degree from New York University's medical school.

A former resident of McLean, she had lived at the nursing home for the past two years. She was a member of the American Congress of Physical Medicine, the American Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American and Southern Medical Associations.

Dr. Buchanan leaves no immediate survivors.

It is suggested that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Josephine J. Buchanan Memorial Fund at Fairfax Hospital.