With so much focus on the aging patient population, it's easy to forget that the physical therapist (PT) population is aging as well, with the percentage of PTs ages 55 and older rising from 11.1% in 2000 to 24.7% in 2013, according to an APTA survey. And while PTs in the clinic can remain passionate about their profession as they age, keeping up with the physical demands of the job may be another matter. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways older PTs can adapt to their changing capacities.
This month's PT in Motion magazine includes “Career Transitioning Advice for Aging PTs,” an exploration of how long-time clinicians are adjusting their routines or transitioning to new career paths, and the life circumstances that led them in that direction.
One example from the article: Damien Howell, PT, DPT, who was in his mid-60s when he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although clinical practice became more difficult, he decided it wasn't yet time to retire. "I loved my job and loved working with my patients. I wasn't about to give all of that up," he told PT in Motion. "So, instead, I focused on making improvements where I could—on trying to adjust my practice so I could continue to work." For example, Howell began to teach patients more self-mobilization techniques, and he has moved toward telehealth services.
Other PTs featured in the article found a new direction with less demanding hours. Randy Roesch, PT, DPT, MBA, FAPTA, transitioned from clinical practice to business consulting when she acknowledged that her "workaholic" tendencies were pushing her toward 80-hour work weeks. Physical therapy, Roesch notes, "is hard physically, mentally, and emotionally, mainly because we get so involved."
"Career Transitioning Advice for Aging PTs,” is featured in the March issue of PT in Motion magazine. Printed editions of the magazine are mailed to all members who have not opted out; digital versions are available online to members.