The Future of Physical Therapy
This morning I had a conversation with an OT who has as much experience or more than I do. I mentioned my frustration with employers desiring low pay over experienced therapists. I don't think my tDPT and geriatric specialization have made me more attractive to employers. If anything, they have made me less attractive. Having them makes me more expensive.
Her response was interesting. She said she wasn't sure that physical therapy as we know it will exist in 10 years. All the DPT has done is drive up salaries, resulting in fewer jobs. One way employers will compensate will be the loss of jobs by attrition. Physical therapy is a female-dominated field. They will simply not fill positions when therapists quit to have children. The remaining therapists will be expected to grind out as many evaluations as possible in an eight-hour day. PTAs will do the majority of the work.
That is a grim outlook. I can't say I disagree with her. We're already experiencing the "grind out as much as you can in eight hours" phenomenon. My review of job ads shows the trend to hiring PTAs over PTs. I know there are fewer jobs overall but I can't say attrition is the cause. It is probably a contributing factor.
She summed up her comments by saying the APTA has shot itself in the foot with the DPT thing. The APTA may have shot itself in the foot, but it wasn't just the DPT thing. In its effort to enact direct access, the common therapist has been forgotten. We're the ones who grind out those eight-hour days. We're the ones who make sure things are done correctly and quality patient care is provided. While the APTA has latched onto direct access as the second coming, the rest of us are struggling to make ends meet and continue to practice a profession that has forgotten us.
More and more, I like my profession less and less. I love treating my neuro patients when I get the opportunity. I like making a difference in someone's recovery. That is happening less and less. Mostly I'm asked to see more patients in less time. I have less help and lack equipment. My patients are often more involved. I don't have the time to get to know them as people.
It used to be I wanted two things in life - to treat my neuro patients and ride my horses. Now there are days when all I want is to survive the day.