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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

PT and OT Stand Out in 2016 ‘Best Jobs' Ranking

Published February 4, 2016 1:06 PM by Brian Ferrie

Every year, professionals, students and prospective students across the country eagerly await "The 100 Best Jobs" ranking published by U.S. News & World Report. The just-released 2016 list offers great reason for physical and occupational therapy professionals to feel proud, and for students to feel optimistic about pursuing careers in these fields. 

Among the 100 Best Jobs overall, physical therapist ranked a very impressive #14, while physical therapist assistant (#40) and physical therapist aide (#52) also represented well. The occupational therapy field enjoyed significant recognition too, with occupational therapist ranking #23, occupational therapy assistant #25, and occupational therapy aide #59. In the "Best Health Care Jobs" ranking specifically, the numbers were even more eye-catching, with physical therapist ranking #12 and occupational therapist #17.

U.S. News states, "Good jobs are those that pay well, challenge us, are a good match for our talents and skills, aren't too stressful, offer room to advance and provide a satisfying work-life balance. Even though there is no one best job that suits each of us, the 100 Best Jobs of 2016 are ranked according to their ability to offer this mix of qualities. Also, the best careers are ones that are hiring."

According to U.S. News, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a physical therapist job growth rate of 34 percent by 2024, with an occupational therapist growth rate of 27 percent over the same time period.

What are your thoughts about the rankings and their reflection on these rehabilitation professions? Do you believe that physical and occupational therapy offer some of the best careers in the country?

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Physical therapy is great career to pursue. Not only is it rewarding, but we have a serious ability to influence the state of health in our country as well as reducing the total cost of health care. Being a PT student graduating in May, I am also excited about the endless opportunities the profession provides. Many people only think about sports when physical therapy is mentioned, but PT covers so many different aspects of healthcare. I only see the profession climbing up on that list of "100 best jobs" as the profession continues to become more autonomous and consumers realize the importance of staying active. As the population begins to age over the next decade and the population of individuals age 65 and over increases, physical therapy will be even more prevalent and discussed.

James , PT Student April 24, 2018 11:13 AM
Greenville NC

As a physical therapy student getting ready to graduate in May, I certainly believe that physical therapy is one of the best careers in the country. PT was originally put on my radar as a career option when I was in middle school and was inspired by a PT. From that time on, I was set on becoming a therapist because of the job itself; I thought it was something I would be passionate about. The pay isn’t too shabby either, and even though some days may be more stressful than others, the rewarding aspects of the job greatly outweigh the negative ones. The profession of physical therapy also offers plenty of room for advancement and continuing education to not only keep clinicians current, but also to challenge them and keep them interested.

Having said all of this, the over-saturation of DPT programs does concern me. Although it seems there are plenty of jobs out there right now, this may not be the case in the coming years. Also, to comment on what many others have replied with regarding this post, it definitely is disheartening to see the profession becoming all about numbers and pushing patients through the system to meet productivity standards. I have been blessed to have had clinical rotations where I really felt the patient’s needs were put first; however, I did have one experience where I felt the patients were not provided with the best care due to time restrictions, and I know many of my classmates had similar experiences as well.

Mikayla, PT - SPT March 27, 2018 3:10 PM
Greenville NC

I started DPT school in 2015, and will be graduating this May. Some of the reasons I chose PT as future career did have to do with the work-life balance, a good salary, and job fulfillment. I've been fortunate to be in clinical rotations where quality care has been an emphasis vs. productivity, but what is the likelihood of that in most places. I have also noticed an over saturation in DPT programs in my state (currently 8 programs, with 2 programs developing), which makes me nervous as I start my career because of the competition with other PT students and current PTs arounds. It's also a little disheartening to see others no longer advocating for our this career because of these changes such as putting more value in productivity, hiring for profit vs hiring for quality, and just feeling less valuable in our profession. I think that's where being a member of the APTA is important, since they advocate for our profession and reimbursement, so we're not just working and pushed for productivity, but working and trying to make a change in health care where are knowledge is just as valuable as other health care professionals.

Marisa, SPT March 27, 2018 11:18 AM

addendum to previous rant.....that did not really answer the question

until the past 5 years , i could honestly promote physical and occupational therapy as a career to provide satisfaction and opportunity .....personally , professionally and financially.

these days , i cannot

karen bechtold, hh - pt February 15, 2016 4:55 PM
roanoke VA

i have worked as  a PT for 38 years. i consider the knowledge  and skill of the profession so valuable.

SNF work has become productivity based...

The professional dialogue about  client' s needs,  best practice, tx strategies>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> replaced by schedules of  minutes, RUG levels  and documentation schemes that overwhelm even the most veteran clinician.

new grads are presented with productivity standards but  no structured mentoring......

the REAL SNF rehab world ................


high RUG levels  for all clients .....painful documentation programs , 90% productivity standards ....................

and the daily battle of one's ethics  vs  survival in the rehab machine .............................

i do believe that  rehab staff's first thought is how to use our professional skills to treat clients.......but is smothered by the numbers game..................

i have thought that we need a union  ...not for increase money  ...but to fight against productivity standards that negate treatment skills  .............and for standards of employment>>new grads to receive  structured mentoring  strengthen our profession....................

not our productivity levels..................  

i finally had to get out of snf rehab ..although i loved the population and the rehab  work .............

i could not watch clients be put on a nu step /omni cycle and call that skilled tx.......................i could not watch OTs  and PTs  and clients be reduced to the lowest common denominator>>productivity i do home health ..and spend my life filling out the never ending OASIS screens.........................

i know the value of our profession...........i think,  i fight for it everyday ...for clients and new grads.....for myself and my colleagues.

i say the opportunity and honor that is created through client and therapist partnership is too good/too strong to be erased.....

but it certainly is being tested.

karen bechtold, home health - pt February 14, 2016 5:16 PM
roanoke VA

Physical and Occupational therapists have essentially become "piece workers"; forced to produce ever increasing productivity with little regard for clinical considerations. What was once an honorable profession has been destroyed by corporate greed.  It's sad.  I do not recommend this profession to anyone anymore; the student loans incurred to obtain a DPT do not warrant the shrinking compensation we receive and the compromising of your values and clinical knowledge that must occur for you to stay employed and provide for your family.

Jim Graca, PT February 14, 2016 6:39 AM
Somerset MA

I totally disagree with the article and author. Having worked as a PTA for approx 13 yrs, anyone in the field realizes PT has become saturated in most parts of the country. Pay in my current FL market is about HALF of what i earned 5 - 7 yrs ago. I attribute this mostly to the amount of new schools / programs popping up. No doubt, these articles pushing PT / PTA as "Best jobs" is likely another factor. McDonald's employees are asking for $15 an hr... i see PTA positions offering that in my area.

Christopher Smith, PTA February 12, 2016 10:05 PM
Tampa FL

I don't think that a physical therapist assistant position is what it used to be. At my hospital they're phasing out Physical therapist assistants and replacing them with PT's

Darlene, Physical therapy - PTA, Glens Falls Hospital February 4, 2016 3:20 PM
Glens Falls NY

I don't think that a physical therapist assistant position is what it used to be. At my hospital they're phasing out Physical therapist assistants and replacing them with PT's

Darlene, Physical therapy - PTA, Glens Falls Hospital February 4, 2016 3:20 PM
Glens Falls NY

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