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Demand for Physical Therapy Jobs on the Rise

Outlook for travel PT jobs and PTA jobs continues to grow

By Yara Souza, contributor

As demand continues to test the limits of the healthcare industry, professionals are working hard to address patients’ needs. Physical therapists (PTs) are a glaring example of one group experiencing a distinct shortage--ranging from about 9,385 current vacancies to 40,934 projected vacancies by 2020, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. This shortage translates to a positive employment outlook for jobseekers.

Along with increased health needs of an aging population, another reason for the growing shortage is the additional patients gaining health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. According to the 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is predicted to grow 36 percent between 2012 and 2022, while employment of physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and aides is expected to grow by 40 percent; both rates are "much faster" than the average growth rate for all occupations.

These factors indicate that PTs and PTAs alike--ranging from new grads to seasoned professionals--can enjoy a range of options when it comes to considering their next move in their allied health careers.

Where PT jobs and PTA jobs will grow

Home healthcare looks to be a big trend for physical therapists

The BLS Handbook cited that opportunities for physical therapy jobs will be most promising in acute hospital, skilled-nursing facilities and orthopedic settings.

“In addition to these type of settings, we are noticing a big trend in home healthcare,” said Christina Miner, MBA, regional vice president for Med Travelers, an AMN Healthcare company specializing in allied health staffing. “There are shifts in the specialty areas for physical therapy jobs, and because of changes in reimbursements, many of these PTs are moving from the hospital and into home health.”

For these PTs considering home health, Med Travelers offers training through the Home Care Institute to bring them up to speed on the nuances of home care.

“When PTs work with their patients at a traditional hospital, they have access to all different types of equipment,” Miner said. “However, it may not be so practical once a patient comes back home to recover, so the PT has to become versed in teaching their patients how to adapt to their environment, for every scenario.”

“It allows for a better relationship between patient and therapist, as well as allowing for a more flexible work–life balance for the PT.”

Varied training through travel PT jobs

As the demand for physical therapy professionals increases, so will therapists’ and assistants’ desire for continuing education and training. Miner said that temporary travel assignments can allow these professionals to learn a wider variety of skills, which are transferable to other settings and jobs.

“Through the partnerships with our travelers, the feedback we get is they have an increased opportunity to work and learn across disciplines, while evolving and molding in different personal and professional settings,” Miner said. “Our PT travelers say they are challenging themselves on a daily basis, learning new techniques on patient care, and learning to be more well-rounded.”

What about salaries for travel physical therapist jobs and physical therapist assistant jobs? Many of these pay higher salaries than permanent positions, due to the current demand and the respective hiring facility.

“The great thing about physical therapists is you don’t have to be married to a certain specialty or focus, and you can really pursue your interests,” Miner said. “Many PTs have seen the firsthand benefits of therapy on themselves or others, which is another common motivator to stay curious for ongoing improvement within this high-demand market.”

Med Travelers is the staffing leader for allied health careers, offering more PT jobs and PTA jobs--as well as opportunities in other allied disciplines--across the country. Find a current position or sign up for free job alerts today.

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