SOURCE: American Physical Therapy Association

April 10, 2006 16:38 ET

APTA Applauds Bill to Provide Relief From Student Loans for Physical Therapists

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 10, 2006 -- Physical therapists who practice in areas where there are shortages of health care providers may get relief from student loan debt thanks to legislation recently introduced in Congress. Representatives Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO 8th District) and Marion Berry (D-AR 1st District) led a bipartisan group of nearly 40 representatives in sponsoring the bill, HR 5134, to make physical therapists who are practicing in areas where there are shortages of health professionals eligible for student loan repayment assistance under the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.

"In rural America, the quality of healthcare is undeniably linked to the availability of services. It can be a real challenge to attract and keep expert physical therapists. As a result we should use the same incentives for them as we are able to use to keep registered nurses, medical technicians, and other personnel in underserved communities. The student loan repayment provisions of the National Health Service Corps should certainly be available to physical therapists," Representative Emerson said.

"Rural America deserves the best health care we can provide, including access to high-quality physical therapy programs," said Representative Berry. "This legislation not only recognizes the critical role physical therapists play in helping Americans live healthy lives, but encourages gifted graduates to practice in underserved areas where the need for these programs far surpasses the number of qualified specialists."

"It takes years of education, including graduate or doctoral education, to become a physical therapist. This leaves many students starting off their careers with a high amount of debt," said American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) President Ben F Massey, Jr, PT, MA. "This new bill would help alleviate some of that burden and encourage more physical therapists to serve in areas that need them the most."

The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program currently includes primary care physicians, dentists, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and mental behavioral health professionals. The bill, HR 5134, would add physical therapy to this list.

The American Physical Therapy Association is a national professional organization representing more than 65,000 members. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapy practice, research, and education.

Contact Information