The Best States for Physical Therapists (ish)


In October of 2013, the APTA’s monthly publication PTinMotion published an article which sounded like it was going to be really cool.  Donald Tepper did an analysis of which states had the most to offer physical therapists and physical therapy assistants.  The article was titled “The Best States in Which to Practice“.  Rounding out the top 5 were:

  1. Utah
  2. Colorado
  3. Minnesota
  4. Virginia
  5. Idaho

My home state, Texas was at a respectable #12.  The only thing I found odd is that there seems to be a virtual flood of PTs migrating from the two states at the top.  My PT friends in Colorado all seem to be concerned that the decline in payment for services will take the salaries there even lower.  When we lived in Virginia, the cost of living was so high, that I was surprised to see it on the list as well.  It made me wonder… what went into this list?  The criteria they used “after examining other similar lists and seeking input from state chapters” was 6 criteria:

  1. Well-being and future livability
  2. Literacy and health literacy
  3. Employment and employment projections (projected growth in PT jobs from 2010 to 2020)
  4. Business and practice friendliness
  5. Technology and innovation ranking
  6. PT and student engagement with APTA

This is where I get confused… why does this list read like it was put out by US News and World Report?  Where are all the PT issues that APTA is advocating for in trying to reach Vision 2020?  There are big differences in the states when it comes to the practice of physical therapy.  Especially in the private practice world, where you practice can make all the difference. If it were me making the list of ‘Best States in Which to Practice’ this is the list I would use.

  1. Status of direct access legislation
  2. Payment for services and regulatory burden for a typical PT visit
  3. Licensure restrictions or lack thereof  (Can I manipulate?  Can I utilize trigger point dry needling?)
  4. Density of physician owned and hospital owned physical therapy services
  5. Cost of living index
  6. Median physical therapist salary

These are some of the things that impact how the business of physical therapy works.  In Texas I receive almost double for the same services as my colleagues in New Jersey.  At the same time median salaries also range from a little more than $26/hour to almost $38/hour depending on your state.  I think that the payment for the service you provide or the salary you receive might be more important than the technology and innovation ranking for the state… at least in a list published by our professional organization.  Financial aspects of well-being and professional concerns aren’t everything, but I find it nonsensical that a list published in our professional organization’s publication almost entirely failed to include them as important.

Note to self: Future blog post: ‘The Best States to Own a Private Practice’.

What’s on YOUR list?  How does your state stack up when you use my list?

Lets discuss on twitter – #solvePT, Tues Nov. 19 at 8-9pm CST or lets discuss them in the comments below.