In 2017, we surveyed 1,691 physical therapists and students to get answers to the questions we were most curious about.
We hope that these 26 charts and graphs help you better understand this wonderful profession of physical therapy!
There was one clear winner here. The distribution of the other settings might surprise you.
It is NOT compensation. That was shocking to us!
Find out how much the average PT makes, and what the sentiment is like towards feeling capable of paying off student loans.
Learn about what each demographic thinks about starting a business or practice, real life challenges, and feelings about the profession.
Brett Kestenbaum, PT, DPT
Chief Operating Officer at CovalentCareers | NewGradPhysicalTherapy
San Diego, California
This student and physical therapist survey focused on all kinds of things, from preferred practice settings, most important things in a job, to finances, to feelings about the profession.
Our PT student and physical therapist survey questions explored these categories:
Let's take a deeper look at some of the questions and insights this physical therapy student and physical therapist survey uncovered.
The setting in which students preferred to practice and the setting where most physical therapists practice were aligned. What was surprising, however, was how the remaining physical therapy practice settings stacked up. Are today’s students developing interests in a wider variety of PT setting opportunities? 🤔
To understand what PTs value in a job, and what prompts them to seek new opportunities, we asked the following questions:
The number of students likely to pursue a residency program was pretty flat. That leaves us wondering why? Aren't there distinct advantages of a physical therapy residency?
When it comes to changing jobs, the primary reason PTs plan to change jobs is because they’re moving to a new location. Over a quarter of PTs are changing jobs because they’re seeking advancement opportunities or increased compensation—but they don't intend to do so by opening their own practices.
This leads us to ask - "Why don't PTs want to be practice owners?"
Interestingly enough, many physical therapists are interested in non-clinical careers. It’s no accident that one of the most popular articles on NewGreadPhysicalTherapy is about non-clinical opportunities for PTs.
Are PTs more interested in careers outside of patient care? Is this why physical therapists don't appear to be overly interested in opening up their own practices?
We do some more digging in the survey!
When it comes to new jobs, the NUMBER 1 most important consideration for new physical therapists entering the workforce was not setting, nor was it income or benefits!
Money and finances are always a topic that generates interest and discussion. We had to probe this subject matter and understand what physical therapists expect to make, what they typically earn on average, and what that looks like in regards to a return on investment in education!
Some of the questions we asked included:
The cost of education has skyrocketed in the last few decades: that's no secret. It stands to reason that PT students would be concerned about paying off their student loans; however, a large majority of physical therapy students felt confident in their ability to pay off their student loans. Based on our survey data, it appears that new graduate physical therapists will be well-educated on average starting salaries in their fields and regions, and will come to the table ready to negotiate for what they’re worth!
See the entire range of income data and average wages in the full report. We highlight some conclusions from this data in our survey commentary — which you can download for free by scrolling to the bottom of the page! 😎
To understand a little bit about how well physical therapy school prepares PTs for the real world, we asked questions like:
We weren’t surprised to find that most PTs think that their experience in graduate school prepared them pretty well when it came to clinical skills! How well does physical therapy school actually prepare you for practice? That's a different story . . . While some new graduate PTs might be interested in starting their own clinics or cash pay practices, PT school doesn’t appear to give them the tools and resources to learn how to do so.
We were astonished to find out how many PTs’ workplaces don’t offer formalized mentorship programs. In an industry where it’s almost universally acknowledged that PT school trains you for clinical excellence but not professional practice, it’s shocking to see how many clinics don’t offer formal training to new employees—particularly when many of those new employees might be working their first healthcare job, period. 😱
Perhaps we weren’t that astonished: after all, that’s why CovalentCareers has partnered with FOX Rehabilitation, which offers a formalized mentorship program to all new employees, complete with hours, goal-setting, and a slow ramp-up to full productivity requirements. Check out our FOX Rehabilitation resources page on CovalentCareers.com for more information!
There are changes in the profession of physical therapy, just as there are changes in all of healthcare. We were curious to understand how students and practicing physical therapists felt about these changes, and subsequently how they felt about the profession and the future.
There was a good mix of optimism and concern reported in these results, but one thing is for sure: an overwhelming majority of respondents WOULD do physical therapy all over again!
Download the PDF survey report with 26 charts and graphs right now. Learn what physical therapists and students really think! 😎👉👉