In 1986 the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education conducted a statewide needs assessment of the supply of and demand for health care professionals in over 25 health care fields. Of the 638 hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and freestanding ambulatory surgical centers surveyed, 321 replied (50%). Respondents reported that occupational therapy positions have one of the highest vacancy rates and pose severe recruitment difficulties.
The occupational therapy vacancies in Georgia hospitals were 16.1% and averaged 15% in all surveyed facilities. In the hospital setting, the length of time needed to hire an occupational therapist ranged from 0 to 280 days with 3 months as average. Nevertheless, the respondents projected a 41% increase in employment of occupational therapists by 1995.
Occupational therapy employment opportunities in Georgia far exceed the supply, and this imbalance will continue until the turn of the century. Although much publicity has been focused on the severe nursing shortage nationwide, in Georgia and apparently in other states, the shortage of occupational therapists is also severe. A concerted effort is required to turn this situation around.