The economic value of an investment in physiotherapy education : a net present value analysis

Rivers, George, Foo, Jonathan, Ilic, Dragan, Nicklen, Peter, Reeves, Scott, Walsh, Kieran and Maloney, Stephen (2015) The economic value of an investment in physiotherapy education : a net present value analysis. Journal of Physiotherapy, 61(3), pp. 148-154. ISSN (print) 1836-9553


QUESTIONS: What is the economic value for an individual to invest in physiotherapy undergraduate education in Australia? How is this affected by increased education costs or decreased wages? DESIGN: A cost-benefit analysis using a net present value (NPV) approach was conducted and reported in Australian dollars. In relation to physiotherapy education, the NPV represents future earnings as a physiotherapist minus the direct and indirect costs in obtaining the degree. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to consider varying levels of experience, public versus private sector, and domestic versus international student fees. Comparable calculations were made for educational investments in medicine and nursing/midwifery. RESULTS: Assuming an expected discount rate of 9.675%, investment in education by domestic students with approximately 34 years of average work experience yields a NPV estimated at $784,000 for public sector physiotherapists and $815,000 for private sector therapists. In relation to international students, the NPV results for an investment and career as a physiotherapist is estimated at $705,000 in the public sector and $736,000 in the private sector. CONCLUSION: With an approximate payback period of 4 years, coupled with strong and positive NPV values, physiotherapy education in Australia is a financially attractive prospect and a viable value proposition for those considering a career in this field.

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