June 11, 2012
Physiotherapy graduates in Western Australia are being urged to broaden their first job expectations in light of a jobs shortage.
University of Notre Dame Dean of Physiotherapy Professor Peter Hamer said graduates should not expect to get a ‘plumb job’ in a major hospital straight away.
“There are few permanent long-term positions available for new graduates in the major tertiary public hospitals,” Professor Hamer said.
“There are a growing number of well supported new graduate programs being offered in the private sector, non-government organisations and the rural sector.”
Australian Physiotherapy Association WA Branch President Tim Barnwell said the mining boom was causing a population spike and an increased need for physiotherapy, particularly in rural areas.
Curtin University Deputy Head of Physiotherapy Sara Carroll said it was becoming more difficult for new graduates to secure their dream job as soon as they finished their courses.
“It does seem that most of them get positions within a few months of completing their course,” Ms Carroll said.
“We are already seeing physiotherapists moving into new areas such as servicing the fly-in fly-out industry, working in chronic disease management teams and providing home-based rehabilitation services.”
The number of jobs is set to drop in the next few years and graduates are being urged to take advantage of opportunities while they can.
Ms Carroll said a potential issue was the large increase in physiotherapy schools across the country.
“Several new schools in Queensland and New South Wales will begin to graduate physiotherapists over the next year or two,” she said.
“It will be interesting to see if this has an impact on jobs in WA.
“I am thinking physiotherapists will need to become a little more entrepreneurial in the future and create new niche markets to secure employment.”
Edith Cowan University hopes to be able to offer its Master of Physiotherapy course in 2013.
ECU first offered the course in 2010 but failed to gain accreditation from the Australian Physiotherapy Council before its first students graduated at the end of last year.
ECU Student Information Officer Lisa Freer said the university was in the process on ensuring all criteria were met to gain accreditation for its course by next year.
Ms Carroll said initially ECU graduates would not have a large impact on job availability due to the small number of students.
“Once the program becomes well established and begins to grow, there will be additional pressure on the job market,” she said.
Fourth year University of Notre Dame physiotherapy student Georgia Hoffman who will graduate in September said she was leaving her options open.
“I would love to work at Charlies [Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital] or Royal Perth but I am not going to limit myself to a hospital job, especially as a new grad,” Ms Hoffman said.
“I can understand though that for a lot of new grads rural or fly-in fly-out work would be too far out of their comfort zone.
“But I’d be up for it.”
Professor Hamer said that new graduates wanting permanent positions would increasingly have to look outside the public hospital sector.