Physical Therapists in Great Demand throughout Oklahoma

Article excerpt

As oil patch states drift ever more closely into a sea of budgetary red ink, a Catch 22 trap jumps up to nip at the heels of any rational steps toward economic recovery.

When revenues decline, legislators often are forced to pull back the reins to slow the rate of public spending. One of the fascinating variables in this exercise is the impact, or perceived impact,on new jobs and economic growth.

It has been argued by many health care economists that public expenditures for health services generate more jobs than all other types of government spending. Whether that view overstates the realities is not the issue here. It may or may not.

What is clear beyond question is an obvious slowdown of economic activity when politicians put the knife to public health care expenditures or, equally important, deliberately underfund certain programs.

From the University of Oklahoma College of Allied Health comes a graphic case in point.

Among other endeavors, the college produces a genre of health professionals known as physical therapists. The Catch 22:

Therapists are in great demand throughout Oklahoma.

The school can't turn out enough graduates to meet the demand.

"The job market for physical therapy is almost unlimited," asserts Martha Ferretti, director of the school's physical therapy department.

In a depressed state economy, however, it is unlikely that the College of Allied Arts can begin to meet the demand - not in the immediate future.

Pressures creating the demand for physical therapy services come from several directions.

School systems are said to be hiring, or trying to hire, more therapists in response to the requirements faced in educating handicapped students. Hospitals, under pressure from Medicare to discharge elderly patients earlier, also are compelled to fish for talent in the same small pool.

The university cites a poll by the Oklahoma Hospital Association showing immediate vacancies for 46 fulltime jobs for therapists in hospitals across the state. …