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Therapist Shortages Plague the Country... Or Do They?

Administrator carrying a clipboard and running on a human-sized hamster wheel

Hiring and retaining staff can often feel like being stuck on a hamster wheel. You hire a clinician and before you can even feel relief that all your students are being served, another clinician leaves for maternity leave, or someone else resigns after months of absorbing the excess workload. Before you know it, you are taking another spin on the wheel, posting a job description, contacting agencies, and hoping that a qualified candidate will come through the door. While you are frantically trying to hire a new SLP, OT, social worker, or school psychologist, your students are regressing.

Many directors say that the shortage of qualified clinicians in their area exacerbates the hiring challenges. In extreme cases, we’ve heard of open positions that went without a single applicant for months, even years. More commonly, you may receive a few inexperienced candidates, or those with assistant credentials. You can take a chance and hope you luck out; or you can stray from the status quo and feel confident in your decision to get off the hamster wheel and adapt your program to fit with the desires and necessities of today’s workforce.

What has changed in today’s workforce? People desire flexibility to manage their careers while raising a family, caring for a parent, or juggling moves due to a spouse’s occupation. By 2020, it is expected that 50% of American workers will be contractors, and due to technological advances, many of these workers are remote. For many of these workers, full time and/or onsite employment may not be an option, but this doesn’t come at the expense of doing a job they love, learning new skills, and providing excellent service.

Although we recognize that your area may suffer from an extreme shortage of clinicians, we want you to know that there are thousands of clinical professionals out there looking to work in schools. We know this because they have applied to PresenceLearning in search of more flexible opportunities, and we have rigorously screened them to build one of the most talented networks of related service providers in the business.

So what does this mean for school districts? Simply put, there is an untapped resource at your fingertips. PresenceLearning has been connecting schools with highly qualified therapists to provide related services for nearly 10 years — and we do this virtually through a proprietary online platform. The outcomes have consistently been in line with onsite services. We partner with school districts to understand their immediate and longer term needs, and match their students with SLPs, OTs, social workers, or school psychologists licensed in their state. Our online therapists become part of the school’s team, just like any other onsite employee or contractor. They provide services, perform assessments, manage caseloads, attend IEP meetings, consult with teachers and parents, and more — all online. This gives them the flexibility they desire, and fulfills the district’s responsibilities, all while ensuring students are receiving high quality services.

What other benefits can districts expect from adding an online component? Because we partner so well with your current onsite staff, we can help to reduce caseload sizes, manage assessments, and allow your onsite team to focus on students who may benefit more from an onsite provider. Having an online partner also means that districts can better allocate their onsite resources. For example:

  • Online staff can provide direct therapy services while onsite staff can perform assessments, or vice versa
  • Onsite staff can can focus their time on specific age groups or responsibilities
  • Online resources can be used strategically to help reduce or eliminate travel time between sites

Administrators also have peace of mind knowing that they can get off the hiring hamster wheel because they have a partner who is looking out for their needs and who will make sure services continue without a hitch even in the event of life’s surprises.

Ultimately this combination of services has a net positive effect: improved student outcomes through consistent quality of service from your onsite team, augmented with our online therapists. Helping kids succeed is the ultimate goal, but the path we once took to get there has evolved.

So as you think about your staffing needs this spring, and further ahead into the fall, I urge to to consider a new path. PresenceLearning is now offering a spring pilot—this means you can try online services with no long term commitments at an extremely competitive rate. This is a chance for you to see how it will work in your district, and if you like what you see, you can get ahead of the game for the fall. We have clinicians ready to serve students all across the country, so don’t miss the chance to lock in your pricing now. Chat with our school partnership team to see how PresenceLearning can help.

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