Pressures Facing Physical Therapists in Today’s Workforce

By Luna
Pressures Facing Physical Therapists in Today’s Workforce

It’s no secret that physical therapists are under tremendous pressure to meet the demands of a healthcare system that continues to evolve. Many healthcare providers are putting more and more emphasis on productivity, which only adds to the burdensome load and pressures that physical therapists face today.

Stress Management and Burnout

Without dedicating time to your personal interests and balancing a life outside of work, burnout is a serious risk. More than 47% of physical therapists experience burnout, and this is a major factor for clinicians leaving the profession.

As a physical therapist, it’s completely normal to feel stressed about the health of your practice. But spending long hours on the job, aiming to meet the demands of working in a clinic, and often taking documentation home can leave you feeling overworked and unfulfilled.

Healthcare systems are prioritizing productivity metrics to increase revenue, and physical therapists often feel frustrated with the high patient load and unrealistic productivity standards. This is pushing the idea of quantity over quality —at the expense of the patient.

Low Reimbursement Rates

The pressures of today not only take a toll on therapists physically and mentally, but financially as well. We have reached a plateau, and reimbursement rates are starting to decrease significantly. With low reimbursement rates, the burden gets shifted to the clinician to see more patients per hour, preventing those patients from getting the attention and care they need.

Cost of Education

According to the APTA, over 90% of physical therapy graduates enter the field with a debt in excess of $153,000. The high cost of education is making it even harder for recent graduates to begin a successful career as a physical therapist. Many must take lower-paying jobs to start paying off their loans, resulting in less access to quality healthcare for their communities and increased stress on those trying to make ends meet.

A Shift to Focus on In-Home, In-Person Outpatient Care

The world welcomed the idea of telehealth with the pandemic in full swing. However, physical therapy has its own challenges with telemedicine. In a field that thrives on building a relationship with patients in person, telehealth can be difficult to implement in an impactful way.

“Sure, there are some things you can accomplish through virtual [therapies], but there are elements that have to be in person for optimal care, such as manual therapies and being in the environment with your patients to observe their functional movements. Do virtual therapies have their place? Absolutely. But I still believe the therapeutic relationship is optimized when you’re there in person with your patients. That’s why Luna’s model has been so well received.” —Melissa Erlandson, MSPT

Luna is at the forefront of change, addressing physical therapists' daily pressures. We recognize that there’s a need for better clinical tools that make your life easier. We’re reducing unnecessary burdens by offering equitable compensation to providers, technology that completes documentation in minutes, and support for continuing education.

Contact us to learn more about becoming a Luna PT and regain your passion for this profession by doing what you love most.

About Melissa

Melissa Erlandson is a highly experienced physical therapist with 22 years of practice in Minneapolis, MN. She has worked in outpatient PT in pelvic health and general orthopedics, skilled nursing, and pediatrics. Passionate about raising awareness for women's health and pelvic health, Melissa witnessed the struggles of her patients who had sought answers from multiple practitioners without receiving timely or appropriate care. In 2016, she joined United Healthcare in a non-clinical capacity, where she raised awareness for pelvic health by meeting with women's health executives and writing articles for the UHC Clinicians Hub and the Techstars women's health startup, Clio. Amidst the pandemic, Melissa started her own virtual women's health business, focusing on coaching women in midlife on hormonal balance through resistance training and lifestyle modifications. Currently, she works in network development for Luna Physical Therapy, the leading in-home physical therapy platform, offering 1:1 personalized care at home that is covered by insurance.