Tester introduces bipartisan bill to connect UM Physical Therapy graduates with Montana jobs

Senator continues effort to reduce medical workforce shortages

(U.S. Senate) – Continuing in his effort to address medical workforce shortages, Senator Jon Tester has introduced a bipartisan bill to connect University of Montana Physical Therapy graduates with Montana jobs and bring more health care professionals to rural parts of the state.

Tester’s Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act of 2015 will make physical therapists eligible to participate in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), a student loan repayment initiative that incentivizes medical professionals to practice in rural and underserved areas of the country. Currently physical therapists are not included in the NHSC.

The University of Montana in Missoula has a nationally ranked School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science.

“Medical professionals graduate with mountains of debt making it hard for them to take jobs in rural communities. This bill will help connect Montana’s physical therapy graduates with Montana jobs,” Tester said. “Graduates who are committed to working in rural areas and helping reduce the travel burden for patients shouldn’t struggle to pay their bills.”

Tester’s bill is supported by the Montana Physical Therapy Association.

“We are excited Senator Tester is addressing the growing demand for physical therapists in rural areas,” said Ryan Mizner, Interim Chair of the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana. “His bill helps University of Montana graduates stay in-state and work to address the health needs of our citizens.”

Tester’s bill requires NHSC participants to commit to two years of full-time service in exchange for up to $50,000 of loan repayment. Medical professionals currently eligible for the NHSC include primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and mental health professionals.

There are NHSC Health Professional Shortage Areas in every county in Montana, meaning there are too few medical professionals in those areas of the county to meet the health care needs of local citizens.

Tester’s bill, the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act of 2015, is available HERE and is cosponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss).