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  • APTA Projects Future Supply and Demand of Physical Therapists

    In an effort to determine a more accurate picture of the physical therapy workforce and aid workforce planning, APTA's Workforce Task Force has developed a model to project supply and demand of physical therapists through 2020. Using the model to manipulate data collected through APTA member surveys, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, and federal and other sources, the task force projected a either shortage or surplus of physical therapists in 3 different scenarios. The model includes multiple variables that may impact the future workforce, such as physical therapist attrition rates, the number of full- and part-time personnel, and the percentage of the US population with health care insurance. The model is easily updated to reflect changes in physical therapy education program graduation rates, employment patterns, health care reform, and other factors. APTA will continue to monitor the health care environment, make any necessary modifications to the model, and communicate changes to members and the public.

    An explanation of the how the model was developed, a description of the possible scenarios, and graphs illustrating the projections are available on APTA's Physical Therapy Workforce Data page.


    • It would be great to have this type of resource for PTAs as well.

      Posted by Molly Keogh on 1/7/2012 4:24 PM

    • I don't need to spend money on a task force for this...I can tell you the future in a nutshell: The demand for PTs will rise, but the financial compensation for being a PT will fall. In other words, more people will need physical therapy, and therapists will have to be more educated and intelligent to navigate the legal and financial demands of increasing regulation and litigation, but they will not receive the same compensation that their forebears received. Physical therapy is in demand; paying for it is not.

      Posted by JM on 1/8/2012 7:40 PM

    • I agree with JM's comments and would add that we need the general consumer base to understand that paying out of pocket for quality health care may be needed to supplement what health plans are willing to pay. It is understood in the field of dentistry, that anything out of the ordinary is not covered by their dental health plan. It needs to be more common knowledge that therapy costs passed onto the consumer is common place.

      Posted by MG on 1/9/2012 1:08 AM

    • I would like to see this information broken down by region, if available.

      Posted by Tamara Gravano on 1/9/2012 8:42 AM

    • I suspect that we will see more PT's working, at least part time, longer. Many of us are still trying to recover our retirement investment losses from the last several years and will be working longer. I don't see any calculations based on this in this report.

      Posted by Patricia Lawrence on 1/9/2012 9:30 AM

    • MG, I am in complete agreement with you regarding the Physical Therapy setting and the need to set the expectations of the health care consumer AND their right to direct access to PT services, too! The example of dentistry being a known OOP (out-of-pocket) service and one that people accept, and will, that they must budget into their healthcare needs. People understand that there is a certain amount of responsibility they must bear when it comes to their health but when they are not feeling well or if they are in pain they will go to the doctor without thinking twice. The same goes for when a person has a toothache or jaw pain. We need to position ourselves in the healthcare industry this way, too! When their knee, back, hip, etc hurts we want them to think, "Oh boy, I need to get to a physical therapist - fast! Right? Our industry is an invaluable asset to the healthcare system and its community; it is very clear that our mission is for us to be accepted as a service that is the first line of care AND prevention when people are experiencing body and/or joint pain and to understand as well as not question why there will be the OOP expense for these services. I would like to see our industry accept that it is part of our role to educate consumers and other members of the healthcare industry we serve about the importance of our role within the system. We don't need to convince ourselves we are necessary or worth the cost nor do we need to justify the effectiveness of our services, that is the aim of evidence based practice and it is growing faster each day thanks to the new level of education requirements and to those in practice for many years already producing proof that what we do WORKS! Now, we can sit back and bemoan that we are not getting the validation we feel (and know) we deserve or we can present our educated and scientifically backed evidence until we earn the attention, respect, and recognition we would like to receive from our healthcare-provider peer group!

      Posted by Danielle Stephens on 1/16/2012 3:57 PM

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