President's Council Projects Growth for Physical Therapy Profession

PTs and PTAs listed as occupations that will "likely grow in importance" 

ALEXANDRIA, VA, July 17, 2009 — The nation's aging population and expanded health care coverage will increase the demand for physical therapist (PT) services, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) as a new federal report1 that presents a projection of potential developments in the US labor market over the next 5 to 10 years is released.

In its report titled "Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow," the President's Council of Economic Advisers says that health care "dominates" the list of industries that are projected to add the most jobs during 2008-2016. The increased demand in this area stems largely from an aging population that will require care at home, in nursing care facilities, and in inpatient and outpatient settings. Occupations that will "likely grow in importance" include PTs and physical therapist assistants. In addition, the expected expansion of health care coverage through reform measures could lead to increased demand for health care professionals.

"This report confirms what APTA has known for many years," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "The physical therapy profession currently is experiencing significant demand for services due to a number of occurrences within the health care environment, including the increased prevalence of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, and we expect that as our nation ages the demand will continue to grow."

Earlier this year, APTA expressed to Congress the vast health care needs of patients and how the demand for physical therapist services is outpacing the number of physical therapists in the workforce.

The report also says that the US economy appears to be shifting toward jobs that require workers to possess greater analytical and interactive skills -- skills typically acquired through post-secondary education. PTs are required to receive a graduate degree – either a master's degree or a clinical doctorate. Though the clinical doctorate currently is not a requirement, the majority of PTs now graduate with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.  

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 72,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice, education, and research. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com.


1 Council of Economic Advisers. Preparing the workers of today for the jobs of tomorrow. http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/Jobs_of_the_Future.pdf. Published July 2009. Accessed July 16, 2009.

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