Job Satisfaction in Physical Therapy and Its Relationship with Debt Load


To identify if students graduating from physical therapy school with exorbitant educational debt load are satisfied with their career choice. Secondly, identify if there is a difference in satisfaction between different practice settings. Background: Job satisfaction is important for life satisfaction as well as for quality of patient care. One factor that may contribute to dissatisfaction among PTs may be educational debt load. As the costs of education have increased, students graduate with greater amounts of debt. Evidence in the medical literature suggests that physicians and other health care professionals pursue specialties often because of the influence of salary potential. Working in higher paying settings may not produce the same degree of satisfaction, if the decision is based primarily on financial considerations only.


This was a quantitative study using an electronic survey. The survey consisted of demographic information, debt information, and questions related to job satisfaction, including the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) and a Visual Analog Scale for rating job satisfaction. The survey was sent to nearly 16,000 licensed PTs in four different states across the country obtained from lists provided by state licensing authorities.


Survey responses from 1062 physical therapists were completed and analyzed. JSS and VAS were found to be strongly correlated with each other (rs=0.75, p<0.05). Generally, PTs identify as satisfied on both the JSS (Mean score 145.39, SD 25.73) and VAS (Mean rating 7.24, SD 0.27). Other potential factors showed little correlation with job satisfaction on either the JSS or the VAS, with all correlation coefficients less than 0.26, indicating little or no relationship. Debt specifically had a slightly negative correlation, non-meaningful correlation with job satisfaction on the JSS and the VAS (rs=-0.094 and -0.097 respectively, p<0.01. PTs in Skilled Nursing facilities reported statistically significantly lower satisfaction that those in Orthopedic or acute care settings (p<05).

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:

Results indicate that PTs are generally satisfied with their chosen career. Debt had no relationship with job satisfaction among PTs. However, there are differences in reported satisfaction among PTs in different settings. It may be important for therapists to consider factors other than salary that may lead to job satisfaction. Finally, since the VAS is highly correlated with a validated measure of satisfaction (the JSS), using the VAS as a quick assessment of satisfaction levels can assist employers in retaining valuable employees.

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  • Control #: 26712
  • Type: Poster Presentation - Research Type
  • Event/Year: ELC2020
  • Authors: Misti Timpson
  • Keywords:

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