UPitt, NCART push for demographic information

‘What if we find out the average age of an ATP is 50 and in 10 years we’re going to have to replace 50% of our workforce, with demand only increasing?’
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Friday, April 6, 2018

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh and NCART are conducting a short survey to provide definition to the complex rehab technology professional landscape.

UPitt and NCART were asking ATP-certified supplier and manufacturer representatives to complete the three-page survey, which focuses on demographics and industry background and experience, by April 18.

“Basically, every profession does surveys like these every five years,” said Mark Schmeler, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh and co-investigator of the survey. “We have a general idea of how many professionals are providing CRT, but we don’t know how old they are, where they work, what market disparities there are.”

The survey’s questions include what is your highest level of formal education, what other professional certifications/licenses do you have, what type of company are you employed by, what type of financial compensation do you receive, and what level of training do you feel a CRT provider should have?

The results of the survey will be used to help raise awareness of the opportunities in complex rehab and assistive technology, which have been long overshadowed by more established professions in physical therapy, occupational therapy and orthotics and prosthetics, Schmeler says.

“These other fields can explain what the job market is and what to expect, and these are questions students have about complex rehab and assistive technology that we don’t have data-driven answers to,” he said. “We haven’t done a good job promoting what we do.”

The results of the survey will also be used to determine potential challenges in the profession, such as shortages of ATPs in certain areas or a population of ATPs that is aging, Schmeler says.

“I’m still working with the same people that I’ve been working with for 20 years,” he said. “What if we find out the average age of an ATP is 50 and in 10 years we’re going to have to replace 50% of our workforce, with demand only increasing? These are things that we need to know and prepare for—for our profession, for policymakers and for health plans.”

The survey is, indeed, timely, says Laura Cohen, who has pushed for developing more formal “educational pathways” to increase interest in complex rehab and assistive technology professions, an evolution already experienced in O&P, which now has dedicated academic programs.

“We have very few people coming up through the ranks,” said Cohen, executive director of The Clinician Task Force. “There are disincentives to getting into this industry, with the payment and policy changes, and there is no formal educational pathway to cultivate the next generation. This helps.”