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Full Story

Future of Physical Therapist Education Programs in Higher Education

Mar 25, 2020

ACAPT is the principal voice representing academic physical therapists

As critical members of the health care team, physical therapists enjoy high job satisfaction, interest from students, consumer demand and good employment rates. Physical therapy education programs are often among the strongest academic programs. ACAPT celebrates this excellence, and we want to preserve and nurture it.

But physical therapy programs face many challenges:

  • Increased PT class size and new programs based on the profession's growth projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) - combined with fewer reimbursable visits per episode of need and reduced reimbursement dollars per visit.

    Actual rise in physical therapy employment is not likely to match BLS projections, and continued expansion of PT educational programs will likely be detrimental to all stakeholders.

  • Physical therapist education transitioned from a baccalaureate to a masters to a doctoral degree, increasing PT knowledge, but also increasing time to complete a degree and licensure.  In short, the rate of increased student debt has outpaced the rate of salary growth.

  • Nationwide shortage of qualified physical therapy faculty, with an average of 1-2 open faculty positions per program.

  • Increased competition for clinical education sites across the country - and increased difficulty in placing students in required clinical experiences.

In light of these issues, we urge higher education institutions to consider this changing landscape before adding new physical therapist educational programs, expanding current class sizes, or increasing tuition.  Read ACAPT's board of directors full statement here.

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