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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Now for Something Completely Different

Published August 24, 2009 1:30 PM by Lisa Lombardo

ADVANCE is already receiving some nice feedback about our Aug. 10, 2009, cover story on therapists who entered the profession later in life, many after following established careers in other fields for years.

The story, "Late Bloomers," tracked several therapists into their moves into the profession. The subjects found by freelance writer Lauren Fritsky had diverse careers, from manual labor to surgical technology. They expressed a desire to do something "more meaningful," as one newly minted PT put it, while still being able to "work with their hands."

One letter writer expresses a similar theme: "I had a 25-year career in the corporate world as an engineer, statistician and research scientist. However, after a layoff, I decided to pursue something I could feel more passionate about, and something that truly made a difference. Like the subjects of your article, I think the field of physical therapy offers tremendous opportunities for directly and positively impacting the lives of others. Already in my brief experience, I can say that I am reaping the rewards I was seeking."

As I have stated many times, a brief check of the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics suggests that PT and the health care field in general is an OK place to be in a recession-even when it worsens. But the static numbers and promise of always being needed might not assuage some fears.

No doubt, the reeling economy of the past eight months has caused many to rethink their career options, either by force (if unfortunate enough to be laid off) or by contemplation about what a changing health care climate might mean to their futures. I wonder how many physical therapists and PT assistants are considering this.

Do you think more people will opt for the PT profession, or opt out? We don't hear about therapists leaving the profession much, so has the economy had the opposite effect? Surely many "new" therapists who adopted PT as their second life path would agree with the latter.


Right now there is a great deal of inertia in healthcare.  Until the ramifications of whatever reform is passed is seen, people are afraid to leave their job or contemplate changing to another job/location.

I do agree with Wendy's comment above.  Nurses are in a higher demand than PTs.  Talk of cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits in homecare, hospitals, and nursing homes, in my opinion will hurt PT more than nursing.

Frank, Home Care - PT October 18, 2009 12:17 PM
Long Island NY


Just from personal experience I  do not see a trend of increasing PT's into the job market for a while.  I teach at a local community college to keep my anatomy skills fine tuned while working full time as a PT and I always invite students to report their career interest.  Right now everyone wants to be a nurse!  

wendy, pediatrics PT - assistant director September 8, 2009 6:44 PM
marlton NJ

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