How Does PT Attrition Compare to Other Professions?

A quick follow-up to my previous post, it's hard to make meaning out of a single set of numbers. So, I've gone back to CIHI and pulled some additional attrition indicators (age group, years since graduation) for the other regulated health professions for which the data are available: Occupational Therapists, Registered Nurses, and Physicians. These data are mostly 2015 numbers with the exception of RNs for which 2016 data are also available so I used that. In both of the following graphs, PT numbers are highlighted in bold blue with diamonds, RNs are light orange with triangles, OTs are light grey with circles, and MDs are light yellow with squares. 

Here's the graph by age group:

Figure 1: 2015 CIHI data showing percent of current workforce by 5-year age groups.

Figure 1: 2015 CIHI data showing percent of current workforce by 5-year age groups.

And here's the graph for years since graduation:

Figure 2: 2015 CIHI data showing years since graduation

Figure 2: 2015 CIHI data showing years since graduation

A couple of things we can pull from these graphs. First, you'll notice the MD data look a bit wonky. Interestingly the CIHI data for MDs provides less granularity for age ranges for MDs (10 year rather than 5 year blocks) yet more granularity for years in practice. To get a smooth line I've split each 10 year block for the MD age ranges in half, but still the beginning (since there are very few practicing MDs <30 years old) and end (MD age ranges are reported all the way up to 80+!) look a bit funny as a result.

Another thing we can pull is that after an initial drop, RNs seem to be fairly stable, suggesting they stay in their profession deep into their careers. Not surprisingly MDs are also quite stable, and one wonders if this stability gives RNs and MDs as a group better institutional memory and a greater ability to leverage the wisdom of experience which may explain their overall better public branding (maybe). On the other hand, it looks like our OT colleagues are in fact in worse shape than we are in terms of attrition. A full 37% of them are <35 years old and it drops consistently from there, and compared to at least 15.6% of practicing PTs with over 30 years of experience, only 9.5% of OTs can boast the same number.

So, perhaps some thinking to be done. The stability in MDs across the age range and years of practice is not surprising and there may not be a whole lot of insight to be gained there. But what about the RN findings? Why are nurses more likely to remain in their profession all the way to retirement while PT and OT seem to drop off considerably after age 40? What can we learn from what nurses have done successfully and apply it to the medical rehabilitation professions?