What Can We Do About the Problems Facing Physical Therapy?
For the past few weeks, I've been blogging about problems within the profession of physical therapy and our frustrations over them. Everyone agrees on the problems. There is probably some disagreement on which ones should be addressed first. After all, they are interdependent. Attempting to improve any of them would be a step in the right direction.
There is another thing we all agree on. The APTA isn't doing much of anything about what we're complaining about. No one is even talking about these issues. Everything is focused on direct access. I've seen previous budgets for the Texas Physical Therapy Association. All of the PAC money is earmarked to promote direct access. I've heard legislative reports. The hot topics are direct access and preserving our piece of the outpatient billing pie.
I think by now I can make another general statement. We are starting to believe no one is going to address these problems. At least no one will until direct access is fully achieved. Should that happen, emphasis will then switch to getting reimbursed for that practice. The rest of us will just have to wait. The dire predictions we've been making will have plenty of time to come into being.
I don't remember when the APTA narrowed its focus to the special interests of a select group. In the earlier years, I don't remember it standing for much of anything. It was supposed to be for everyone and maybe it was. Not anymore.
The changes of the last few years aren't helping the profession. Maybe the DPT was the right way to go but implemented poorly. Direct access needs to be addressed but not instead of everything else. Most of us would just like job security, yearly salary increases and adequate staff to treat our patients.
The real losers here are the patients. No matter what level of care our patients are in, they are not getting the care they deserve. We're so overworked we can barely spend the minimum of time with anyone. Our equipment is inadequate or dated or both. Support staff is limited to barely enough to manage the paperwork. When we complain, the answer is the same everywhere. There is no money in the budget.
I could go on and on about the numerous ways lack of funding is affecting our patients. There is no money for equipment. There is no money for DME. There is no money for orthotics. There is no money for adaptive equipment. No one gets enough therapy. For most of us, new technologies are something to be admired at the Combined Sections Meeting. Many of us from back in the day are trapped in jobs we don't like because there are no other opportunities.
But we have to have direct access. We have to be DPTs.