Background Health human resources (HHR) continues to emerge as a critical health policy issue across the United States (US).
Objective To develop a strategy for modeling future workforce projections to serve as a basis for analyzing annual supply of, and demand for physical therapists (PTs) across the US into 2020.
Design A traditional stock-and-flow methodology/model was developed, and populated with publicly available data to produce estimates of supply and demand for PTs by 2020.
Methods ‘Supply’ was determined by adding the estimated number of PTs, and the approximation of new graduates, to the number of PTs who immigrated; minus US graduates who never passed the licensure exam, and an estimated attrition rate in any given year. ‘Demand’ was determined by using projected US population with health care insurance multiplied by a Demand Ratio in any given year. Difference between projected supply and demand represented ‘Shortage’ or ‘Surplus’ of PTs.
Results Three separate projection models were developed based on best available data in the years 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively; based on these projections, demand for PTs in the US outstrips supply under most assumptions.
Limitations Workforce projection methodology research is based on assumptions using imperfect data, therefore, and results must therefore be interpreted in terms of overall trends rather than as precise actuarial data generated absolute numbers from specified forecasting.
Conclusions Outcomes of this projection study provide a foundation for discussion and debate regarding the most effective and efficient ways to influence supply-side variables so as to position PTs to meet current and future population demand. Attrition rates or permanent exits out of the profession can have important supply-side effects, and appear to have an effect on predicting future shortage or surplus of PTs.
- Received January 21, 2015.
- Accepted October 4, 2015.
- © 2015 American Physical Therapy Association