Future Glut of OTs?

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OTer in Los Angeles, California

43 months ago

This may just be my overactive thinking process overthinking things again, but does anyone consider the possibility of a glut of OTs in the near future?

With the economy the way it is (and a very slow estimated recovery), lots of individuals are turning to education as a key to a secure future. Currently, I know that the nursing field is flooded with nursing students. I know that many law students are also having difficulty finding jobs after law school (and paying off their loans, ouch!). From hanging out in the pharmacist forum, I've noticed that there are many pharmacists who have been complaining over the past year or so about the difficulty in securing a job because of too many new pharmacists entering the workforce after their PharmD program.

Is it just a matter of time for us before we suffer a similar fate?? I know the number of applicants into OT schools increases every year (some schools require applicants to have a 3.6 GPA to qualify for an interview!). Or are there other factors in our field that will help prevent this from happening?

I would love to hear other people's thoughts/insights/opinions on this. Thanks!

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Sarah in Naperville, Illinois

42 months ago

I thought about nursing for awhile, and there were dozens of programs in my area (Chicagoland). OT only has 5 in the whole state, with about 40 spots in each program.

As long as there are not many programs and the existing ones stay small, there are only so many students that can graduate at one time. Most OTs leave their entry job after a year or two, opening up the spot for another recent grad. I think it will be a long time before we have to worry about that.

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Mich in Torrance, California

40 months ago

Sarah in Naperville, Illinois said: I thought about nursing for awhile, and there were dozens of programs in my area (Chicagoland). OT only has 5 in the whole state, with about 40 spots in each program.

As long as there are not many programs and the existing ones stay small, there are only so many students that can graduate at one time. Most OTs leave their entry job after a year or two, opening up the spot for another recent grad. I think it will be a long time before we have to worry about that.

Comparing the number of nursing schools with the number of OT schools is not a good way to gauge whether or not we are going to have too many OTs. When crunching numbers, more nurses are generally necessary compared to an OT. Which means they need more schools. Think of a hospital. I'm sure the nurse to OT ratio is highly in the nurses favor because they simply need more nurses. We don't even need to approach 50% of the number of nursing schools for the OT field to have a surplus.

(according to the BLS, there were approx 2.6 million RNs working in 2008. Compare that to the number of employed OTs, aprox 105,000. So for everyone 1 OT there is about 25 RNs.)

Comparing the number of PT schools to OT schools will be more accurate, but even then there are usually more positions available to PTs than OTs. (for every 1 OT, there is about 1.7 PTs.)

For the original poster, I think the one of the best ways to express your concerns is to be involved in our professional organizations (and pay your dues). AOTA and OTAC (for CA) work to help us keep our jobs.

Does anyone know the numbers for how many practicing OTs are actually a member of our professional organization(s)?

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Arian in Folsom, California

40 months ago

If legislation changed so that schools were no longer required to provide OT to most children in schools (since they should be able to get it with national health care), we could see lost jobs.

Or if continuous therapy were not a requirement for higher reimbursement for nursing homes. That could lead to many, many unemployed therapists. I would not be surprised if that change were made.

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