Specialization and Skill or Low Salary?
Recently I've found myself looking at the available positions in Houston. I never thought I would be doing this again but here I am. Things have changed since I last looked. There are more jobs posted than previously. Salaries are higher. No one seems to be looking for anyone with experience.
While there are more job listings, there don't seem to be that many looking for a PT. For every one posting for a PT, there were at least two for a PTA. The higher salaries probably are a result of the increased cost of living than anything PT-related. PTs are being paid more because they have to be paid more. I wasn't making extravagant money when I worked for the evil empire but probably toward the upper end of my range. I was shocked to find positions offering as much as $8/hour less than I made.
Every posting stated a graduate of an accredited school but none required a DPT. All but one specified a bachelor's degree. One wanted a master's. With the exception of the local women's hospital, no one wanted any certification or specific experience. Some mentioned providing training in manual therapy. One offered to pay for an NCS. It seems facilities would rather hire inexperience and pay for the training over time than pay up front for the skills.
The most experience required for a position was four years. After that, the experience must become too expensive. That or there is a mistaken perception floating around that PTs learn everything in the first four years after graduation. Additional experience is unnecessary.
Every one of these observations supports the preference of lower salary over knowledge and experience. I'm sure those facilities would take someone with more skill as long as they didn't have to pay extra for it. PTAs, who make less than PTs, are in higher demand. I don't think any new DPTs are going to be paying off loans too quickly.
The bottom line has usurped quality of care in hiring staff. Facilities would rather pay less money than pay for skill. The APTA needs to take notice. It is pushing for PTs to become certified specialists. The implication is facilities will recognize this and readily hire those therapists. I don't think so. They might hire them, but not because of the certification, maybe in spite of it.
Is ours the only profession that kicks experience to the side in exchange for the bottom line? Physicians are encouraged to specialize. So are nurses to some extent. Experienced professionals in both of those disciplines are viewed with respect. That isn't so in physical therapy. It's obviously not so in the hiring process nor in some of the departments where I have worked. But that is a blog for another day.