Wouldn’t it be great if therapists grew on trees?

Unfortunately for the 9.7million people who live in medically underserved areas , that’s not the case. In fact, according to the American Staffing Association’s March 2015 Skills Gap Index Report, allied health professionals are some of the top ten hardest jobs in the country to fill. The ASA analyzes data from Career Builder’s supply and demand portal to determine which jobs are hardest to fill. Occupational therapists are the #1 most difficult job to fill; physical therapists were not far behind at #3; and speech-language pathologists were #6.  With rehabilitation professionals making up nearly a third of the top ten, it’s easy to see that something needs to be done about the shortage.

Serving Those Who Need It Most

The APTA has taken action and is lobbying on the US government to include physical therapists as a National Health Service Corps provider. The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) helps 9.7 million individuals nationally, serving as “a pipeline for providers in underserved areas.” However, as of right now, physical therapy is not included in this “pipeline” as a primary care–creating a huge gap in providing essential, appropriate care for those 9.7 million. In fact, according to the APTA’s  Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Position Paper, “Based on current trends in the physical therapist workforce, the shortage of physical therapists could potentially reach over 27,000 in the United States by 2020, greater than other primary care disciplines recognized by the National Health Service Corps.” In other words, there are other medical fields that are benefiting from the appeal of loan repayment programs from the NHSC, but physical therapy is not, even though it is more needed.

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HR2342/S1426

This dire need for Physical Therapists is why the APTA is rallying so heavily in defense of HR2342/S1426 or the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act of 2015, which would, “Amend the Public Health Service Act to include physical therapy within the definition of ‘primary health services’ for purposes of the National Health Service Corp.” If physical therapy were considered under the umbrella of the NHSC’s definition of primary care, therapists would be eligible for loan repayment of up to $50,000 if they work in an underserved area, hopefully dropping the level of underserved individuals across the nation.

How does this shortage affect you?

If you need to hire a therapist, and your job posting hasn’t received any applicants, you may be in one of the NHSC’s designated critical access locations. The HRSA database can help you see what the shortage is in your area, so that you know what to expect when trying to recruit new talent.  What can you do if you are in a critical access location?  First, lobby your representatives and officials to amend HR 2342/S 1426. Contact  PT Solutions! We specialize in networking with therapists and will help you source new talent in hard to fill locations.

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