Practice Experience Podcast: Strengthening the PT Talent Pipeline 

Tune in to WebPT's podcast on Strengthening the PT Talent Pipeline. Gain insights into attracting, retaining, and nurturing top talent in physical therapy.

Mike Willee
5 min read
June 27, 2023
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Rehab therapy continues to experience a staffing crisis; according to this year’s State of Rehab Therapy report, 11.4% of rehab therapy professionals left their job in 2022, and 66% are considering making a career change in the future. Without an influx of knowledgeable providers, the profession runs the risk of being unable to meet the demand for physical therapists—or the needs of patients. The current recruiting and educational system, however, isn’t optimized to tap into every available avenue for physical therapist talent, nor does it get those students ready to handle the responsibilities that’ll be placed on their shoulders upon graduation.    

In this episode of The Practice Experience Podcast, WebPT Co-Founder and Chief Clinical Officer Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, talks with Josh Funk, DPT, CEO at Rehab 2 Perform, and Devon Morris, DPT, a resident at Emory Healthcare about building a bigger and better pipeline of talent into the professional ranks of physical therapy—and retaining those skilled clinicians. 

In the interview, Heidi, Josh, and Devon discuss: 

  • students’ challenges in transitioning from educational settings to actual clinical work,  
  • how the profession can better attract and nurture talent, and
  • why education doesn’t end with graduation. 

Episode Highlights 

On Choosing to Pursue a Career as a PT 

Devon: I was really drawn to the profession when I shadowed a specific mentor who works and owns a private practice… There was this awe factor that came with a patient coming in with something and leaving feeling almost healed. It was fascinating. And so that's when I was like, “Yes, this is what I wanna do.”

On the Challenges of Jumping into a High-Volume Clinical Residency 

Devon: How can we make that transition easier so it's not so abrupt—so that the burnout doesn't happen so quickly and we start losing new grads in the profession early on? How do we make the new grad experience different so that we can retain and keep people for five or 10 years? That's when you can see the high volume—once it's a piece of cake for you to see that many patients at one time.

On Rehab2Perform’s Internship Programs

Josh: We're looking to create an ecosystem of touchpoints for young people to ideally experience not just the profession from a services standpoint in a way that we think is best practice but also from a connectivity standpoint, engaging them with the profession at younger ages to pull them in.

On Teaching the Basics of PT as a Business

Josh: Overall we all could benefit, especially those that are in more of your decision-maker roles, from being a little bit more intentional with regards to how you're introducing people to the profession… How much business literacy are we providing young people? Do they know what goes on in regard to reimbursement and how that ties into salary? Do they understand the different dynamics of regional implications? Do they understand the differences in terms of what a hospital might get paid in a private practice place? 

On the Importance of Mentorship

Devon: The mentorship piece is key because especially for me. I knew that I didn't want to learn from my own mistakes in the same amount of time or a longer amount of time when I had someone else's mistakes and guidance to go off of and to learn from in a year.

On Recent Challenges in Education

Josh: I think that the past few years were extremely challenging for young people to really get the full experience with PT school. And we had a lot of people who missed certain aspects of a normal school curriculum… We've had probably more challenges over the past 12 to 18 months with some of our students with regard to baseline preparatory things that we really didn't feel like we should have to talk about.

On the Shifts with PT Over the Years

Heidi: When I graduated from PT school, it was very consolidated, with large organizations and a high volume of patients. Because contracts had been signed for low reimbursement rates, you would get all of those patients from Cigna or UnitedHealthcare. So the volumes were expected… There wasn't the differentiation that there is today in the vast number of opportunities there are in the profession as a whole. I think the pendulum is now swinging back a little bit with the value-based care models and reimbursements continuing to decline.

On Finding Roles That Allow PTs to Grow

Devon: Am I going to keep learning? Because this is a profession where you have to keep evolving and learning. Am I going to learn how to do effective research that I can apply to my clinical practice? Am I going to be learning the newest modalities that come out with research?  I’m not looking for the bells and whistles that get the patients in—I’m interested in effective technology that can really make a difference.

On Fostering the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Josh: I think largely we focus so much on entrepreneurism, but we don't focus a lot on entrepreneurs. And I think that the more we have these conversations where people are highly literate about business, they know ways that they can operate within the confines of an entrepreneurial umbrella and they can be in a situation where they're adding tremendous value. They just might not want to take over that ownership piece where there's a little bit more risk-reward. 

Listen and subscribe to The Practice Experience Podcast:

[Apple Podcasts] [Spotify] [Google Podcasts] [RSS]


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