Where have all the physios gone?

Viewed singularly the prediction that by 2022, Australia will have a 6,500 shortfall in the number of physiotherapists practicing in this country is alarming. But when it is examined alongside the increasing number of new graduates flooding the market and the professions attrition rate, the prediction of such a “yawning gap” is setting off warnings in the professions regulatory bodies and in tiers of government. The attrition rate is about 3.5%”

Article: InMotion:  February 2019: Enabling overseas physios help fill the void

It appears from the number of positions vacant for clinical physiotherapists in private practices, that the situation cited by Melissa Mitchell in her article is coming to fruition.  There are 67 advertisements for private practice physios in NSW, 51 in Victoria and 208 Australia-wide on the Jobs4physios platform.

Practice owners are talking about how concerned they are about the shortage in available clinical staff. They are either needing more staff due to business growth or as a replacement for those that have moved on. This seems to be a juxtaposition to what we might have otherwise expected as a a result of Covid. We are more likely to have anticipated a down turn in business or even closures of less sustainable businesses due to extended or repetitive lock-downs especially in Victoria

We may be entering a period of chronic and possibly a long- term shortage of clinical physiotherapists in Australia. This will be further exacerbated by our borders being closed due to Covid and limited access to overseas physiotherapists to fill the labour shortage.

The total number of physiotherapy practices in Australia is unclear. Based on observation, there has been a rapid increase in the number of private physiotherapy practices over the past 10 years. This may be due in part to market factors, including an aging population and the arrival of new programs such as the NDIS. There is a lack of a clear and accessible professional pathway for graduates of Physiotherapy programs. Practice ownership is seen as an avenue for autonomy and an opportunity for wealth accumulation

Yet, with the proliferation of private practices comes a homogeneity. The profession is vanilla, with similar services delivered in similar settings. There may be slightly different biases with a current flavour of pilates and interdisciplinary practices

We are entering a “disruption-like” scenario. We will see smaller unsustainable practices shutting their doors due to lack of quality clinical staff. This may somewhat improve the workforce supply.
Disruption may be beneficial, leading to the profession looking at new ways of doing things and for new opportunities. It might make us consider the culture of our workplaces and how we are different from others either in own profession or like professions. Those business owners that embrace the discomfort of disruption and find ways to be better will thrive. It is time that some of us moved away from our systemic navel gazing and looked outside to see how others approach challenges. It is an opportunity for allied health business owners to show leadership. The profession and our patients will be better for it.

Let us look, firstly at the way that allied health businesses advertise for staff. http://www.https://coachhealthblog.com/searching-for-someone-the-who-the-what-and-the-why/


Dianna Howell Certmgr MIML MAPA

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