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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Generational Diversity: Year 2020 Is Coming

Published February 10, 2009 8:38 PM by Lisa Lombardo
LAS VEGAS--Do PTs comprehend the times as they are a'changin?

Sooner or later the change hits every clinician with a job in PT: There is a big difference in how therapists of different generations see their values and goals on the job.

Heidi Dunfee, PT, DScPT, CCCE, explored strategies and solutions to promoting generational diversity in the workplace. She and a panel of PTs presented "How Are You Leveraging Your Generational Diversity for the Year 2020? on Tuesday at CSM.

Dr. Dunfee shared the panel with Peggy Blake Gleeson, PT, PhD, Teri Stumbo, PT, MS, Alecia Helbing Thiele, PT, DPT, MSEd, ATC/L.

"PTs need to consider what their own core values are, what their top three generic abilities are and what skills and personal traits are most important in guiding them in the workplace," Dr. Dunfee said. "Generational differences often [yield] differing views of generic abilities and values on the job."

The first step is for many PT managers to ask themselves three simple questions: What do we do here? What is your job? What is our mission?

PTs should recognize that those of an older age range could see the core values and necessary abilities in a different light than younger counterparts, she said. This applies to both the clinical environment and at the educational level.

With such a broad range of ages among professional clinical PTs, educators will soon realize how outlooks on the way newer PTs approach their careers can affect how clinics operate.

The topic was interesting to this PT outsider because it would seem this kind of generational gap occurs in most fields. But I have noticed that physical therapy, to its credit, spans a wide swath of age ranges; many are young yes, but there are a lot of baby boomer-age PTs and PTAs still working at the clinical level, many at non-managerial positions. They are often the ones working alongside the "new" generation of clinicians. No matter how tightly honed a staff, conflicts among traditional workers and novices to the profession are bound to happen.

So what do PTs think? Do changing outlooks toward managerial skills and on-the-job values affect how PTs are educated today? How will changing approaches impact Vision 202 for educators and current managers?

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