If you’re an experienced physical, occupational or speech therapist, as the population overall ages in the coming years, you’ll be sitting in the proverbial catbird seat when it comes to opportunities to work as a healthcare traveler.
Let’s start with physical therapists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that the need for PTs is going to grow by 30 percent between 2008 and 2018. As baby boomers reach the age of 65 and older, what will PTs be asked to do?
Boomers will be looking for more therapy services due to the increased number of total joint replacements as well as joint resurfacing procedures. In addition, there will be a greater need for PT related to cancer, neurological and other conditions due to the fact that boomers are heading into old age in a more active and healthy manner and, as a result, likely will live longer than their parents and grandparents.
As for speech therapists, by 2030 there will be more than 72 million people older than 65 in the U.S. This figure will be twice the number of 2007. As we age, it’s normal for changes to occur in memory, language, speech, and our ability to swallow. What’s more, an aging population more than likely means more people having strokes or developing Parkinson’s disease or dementia, which could also mean an increase in having trouble communicating or swallowing – all conditions that a speech therapist can help treat.
Occupational therapists also should see a 30 percent growth in the need for their services in the coming years. One of the goals of an aging population is that of “aging in place”: being able to stay in their homes as long as possible as they age (rather than move into assisted living or long-term care facilities). OTs can help seniors stay at home for as long as possible via working with them to modify homes so that they’re more accessible for individuals with poor mobility, vision loss or another type of limitation.
How do these trends translate to more opportunities for therapists as travelers?
Many people will have a hard time getting to large metropolitan areas for treatment. The need for travelers to visit facilities in small, rural and/or underserved areas of the country will become more and more critical. Many healthcare facilities don’t have the funds to keep professionals such as therapists on staff full time. Or they don’t have a need all year round, so they turn to travel healthcare services to bring them therapists and other healthcare professionals when patient loads dictate a need.
Regardless of whether you’re a professional with a hankering to travel or if you enjoy in serving patients in one place, the coming years will see a great need for your therapy skills. If you’ve ever thought of being a traveler, contact a MedPro Healthcare Staffing recruiter. We’d love to learn more about your professional goals and how we may help you meet them.