Schools often face struggles throughout the year. One of the biggest struggles schools face is the lack of therapists available to fill open positions. Some of these shortages are caused by medical leave, job dissatisfaction, high caseloads, relocation, or just not enough therapists available in a geographical area. Schools are plagued by the lack of therapists available and the need to fill these gaps. Positions can remain open months or years before they are finally filled, if at all.
Over the past several years, the number of students requiring an IEP has steadily increased. The number of therapists, on the other hand, has not increased enough to keep up with the mandate for these services. This often leaves those therapists employed by schools overworked and underpaid. Despite providing a service they are passionate about, they burn out at a much higher rate than those same therapists employed in other fields. Others are starting to have families or dealing with illness, leading to leaves of absence. As there is already a shortage of therapists, it becomes almost impossible to find therapists to cover these mid-year absences.
So what can be done to fix this problem? With the rise in access to technology, one possible way for schools to solve this issue is by embracing teletherapy services. Telepractice companies can more easily hire therapists that schools might not have access to due to geographical constraints or the therapists’ requirements for schedule flexibility. It also allows the therapists to help more students in multiple locations as they will not be dealing with windshield time. As experienced by our founding therapist, she has started her day seeing students in a Michigan school intertwined with students in an Ohio school and finished her day with students at a California school, while never leaving her home. Teletherapy can be an extremely useful tool, especially for rural schools. Therapists often want to live close to big cities where everything is easily accessible. This can often mean a higher pay rate compared to working in rural areas. Telepractice removes this geographical barrier.
Below are some articles regarding therapist gaps in schools. Here at Lighthouse Therapy, we are dedicated to making sure schools have the therapists they need. But not just a “warm body”. We strive to provide excellent therapists who love what they do and are excited to be working with students in an environment they love.