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DO vs PT

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Osteopathic [ DO ]' started by massagether, May 6, 2012.

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  1. massagether

    massagether massagetherapist

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    Hi.
    Thank you for taking your time to read my post.
    I'm a 31 year old male massage therapist with an intense interest in health, wellness, and kiniesiology.
    I have an undergraduate degree in political science (3.78gpa) and am almost finished with all of my pre-med requirements (still have to do org chem 2 and biochem but 3.4 GPA so far). I've just started shadowing, and have a lot of EC interest in martial arts and yoga. I also travel as frequently as possible.
    I was interested in going DO with an OMT specialty or PM&R as that dovetails best with my interests and experience.
    I recently lost my best friend since childhood and have now been having a lot of "life is short" second thoughts about med school. Considering physical therapy as an alternative.
    Realistically, I will not enter med school until I am 33. I love my MA and yoga practice, and still socialize in hopes of finding "the one" (cheesy, I know).
    From speaking with residents and from what I've read on these forums, it seems like going the DO or MD route precludes being able to maintain dedication to EC hobbies or any sort of meaningful social life.
    If I was 10 years younger I'd say it was a no-brainer, but I'm really starting to wonder if it's worth it to spend my 30's neck deep in school and then residency.
    From my understanding, going a PT route would leave me the time and energy to continue to grow in my physical/mental practices (yoga and MA) as well as maintain a social life outside of school.
    I realize that this is a personal decision, but any thoughts or comments (especially as to the reality of maintaining outside interests with any degree of proficiency while pursuing medicine) would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks!
  2. MedPR

    MedPR

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    As a pre-med with a girlfriend who just finished MS2 (and is now studying even more for USMLE Step 1), I can vouch for the fact that even a pre-existing relationship is difficult when at least one member is a medical student and forming new ones probably isn't any easier. I have gotten to know a few of her classmates, and though none of them are quite your age, two of them turned 30 during MS1. Both of them had different (and successful) career paths before deciding on medicine and they both appear to have time to date and continue with their hobbies (primarily working out). You will be in school with members of the opposite sex, so although the pool is small, to me it is easier to meet the (maybe) right person when you are always around the same people. I can't imagine what it's like trying to meet people in the real world.

    Obviously I'm no med student so I can't speak for my own personal experience, but I have found that my girlfriend and many of her friends have been able to maintain their hobbies and continue to live a somewhat normal life. Things will probably be different in MS3 and intern year, but the first two years of med school (from my outside looking in perspective) seemed very similar to having a full-time job: school, study, some time to do whatever you want, sleep and repeat.
  3. LSU Alex

    LSU Alex The only good lawyer is a sick one...

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    Everyone is different. I have found that non-traditional students have a better grasp on life in general (no disrespect to anyone intended). We understand that we need to put in work, but we also understand we need to have balance in life. You will find time for hobbies and socialization in medical school if you have good time management skills. I went from a career in forensics to medical school. I knew I'd have to get back into the habit of daily study, but it really wasn't that bad of a transition. I stil had time to go out on weekends and at least one night during the week. Studying for boards sucked, but even then, there was still time to get out at least once a week. Again, learn time management skills...

    If you want to be a doctor, be a doctor. Don't go the half-measures route, or you'll never be happy...

    Bonne chance.
  4. MedPR

    MedPR

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    I agree. What happens if you go the PT route then after 2 years (or however long PT programs are) you realize you wish you had gone MD/DO. You'll be even older then and perhaps even less willing to make the time commitment.
  5. massagether

    massagether massagetherapist

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    Thanks for the reply. More concerned about the last five years (2 of med, 3 of residency) that I'll be completing in my late 30's possibly early 40's than the first two. Do you have time to see each other on a regular basis (go on dates, get drinks or a bite to eat, get away for a weekend) or is it more just sporadically grabbing time when she can between exams?
    Encouraging that they still manage to work out regularly. It's a lot easier to have it, slack off a bit in your twenties, and regain it in your thirties (I've done it) than it is 30's-40's.
    Most of my patients who were or got healthy in their 30's seem to have a much easier time staying fit and active decades later than those who let it go (whether through laziness or lack of time due to career and family) during that time period and are now trying to regain it.
    Sounds silly and it's purely anectdotal, but I've observed that men really seem to either age fast or stay young for years around 36-38, depending on their lifestyle (stress, exercise, nutrition and sleep).
  6. massagether

    massagether massagetherapist

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    Thank you for your perspective Alex. Encouraging that there is still SOME time for a life. I guess the residents I've talked to (admittedly, a small sample) scared the sh!t out of me with their stress, lack of time, and singular focus. Watched one guy I who I used to train with gain 35 pounds (he's 5'7), lose his girlfriend, and completely disassociate from everything he used to enjoy in his first two years of residency (although the decline started towards the end of med school).
  7. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Well I am typically in school from 10-2pm then at work from 3pm-midnight, but once I get home we usually have some time for each other. Almost every weekend (except weekends before exams) we go to eat, watch a movie, or do something together typically for almost an entire day. We haven't traveled much, but a lot of that is due to my financial situation (I'm 23 and not making much and have no support from my family) and not necessarily time constraints because of her medical school studying. So even though we don't have as much time for each other as we did in senior year of undergraduate, we have enough to keep us both happy. Basically there is a decent amount of time in each day except for the 4-5 days before an exam. We do live together though and I don't know what it would be like if we didn't.

    I only have experience with her first two years and I know you are more concerned with the latter years of medical education. I've heard that MS4 is the "easy" year and MS3/PG1 are the worst years, but we'll see.

    From your original post I'm guessing that you don't currently have a partner or any children so at least those factors aren't further complicating your decision to do MD/DO or PT. I don't know how much inter-professional interaction there is in the massage therapy field, but through 4 years of medical school, 3+ residency, and then your job in the hospital (or private practice) you will be able to meet hundreds of people that could potentially be the one for you.
  8. LSU Alex

    LSU Alex The only good lawyer is a sick one...

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    M3 year isn't that bad of a year. I think it is still easier than M1/M2. You are in the hospital a lot, but you do have plenty of time to do other things. Studying takes on a different character then. It is more of studying for practical supplementation as opposed to studying abstract concepts. So you are studying the things that you are interacting with everyday, thus you understand it even more. At least that's how it worked for me. M4 year is freaking manna from heaven. You've taken all your boards and now it's auditions and interviews. You'll have ridiculous amounts of time to do all your heart desires.

    Residency all depends on what you go into and where you do it.

    Again, it all comes back to time management skills. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make things happen. Medicine is time consuming for sure, but it is manageable. I'll be finishing residency when I'm 36... and Lord-willing, a fellowship when I'm 39. I know people older than that who are in the middle of residency, and are quite happy. It all depends on your effort and what you can tolerate.
  9. ModusPwnens

    ModusPwnens

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    I have a friend who is getting his DPT right now, and it does seem that he has somewhat more time than medical students.

    I am a bit torn on what advice to dish out; on one hand, people say that if you are trying to choose between medicine and something else, do the other thing. Only pursue medicine if you can't see yourself doing anything else. I think that you would probably be happy being a PT based on your background.

    However, the DO would offer more flexibility and autonomy of practice than the DPT. Are you okay with already being somewhat pigeonholed in one focus of healthcare? If so, do PT. Medical school will offer more flexibility at the price of more school and more initial debt. My 2c.
  10. massagether

    massagether massagetherapist

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    My interest is mainly in musculoskeletal and sports medicine, as well as restoring and maintaining general health and wellness. I've helped many frustrated patients who sought relief from chronic neck, back shoulder, etc. pain for years through pt, orthopaedics, and various other traditional modalities.
    Many times by applying principles learned through my experience in yoga and martial arts as well as hands on manual manipulation I've managed to help people enjoy pain free (or greatly pain reduced) lives who were unable to be helped by professionals with far more formal education. I've also observed many seemingly unrelated pathologies be helped (or even disappear completely) by simply restoring muscular balance, releasing chronic patterns of tension or strain, and implementing stretching, strengthening, and balance training routines to my patients, as well as pointing them in the right direction on lifestyle choices (sleep, diet, stress management, etc).
    Yet I recognize that I am limited in what I can do by my lack of formal education, and want to find the best route to help patients to the greatest extent of my abilities. Thus my desire to either become a DPT or a DO specializing in either OMT or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
    My fear is that the time investment and specific focus required to complete medical school and residency will significantly impact my ability to continue advancing in yoga and the martial arts, which is both a central part of my core being as well as extremely helpful in the type of healing I wish to practice. I'm not sure if it is the best route because of the autonomy of practice and ability to tailor treatment or if it will significantly take away from something that I don't wish to lose focus on.
    At the risk of sounding like a quack, I'd like to combine the best elements of modern scientific practice with those methods that have proved to show tangible results in my own limited massage practice (and be better able to analyze WHY those methods have been helpful as I occasionally work from intuition and experience without having sufficient explanation why it worked). And of course, I'd like to continue to grow and advance as an individual in both my physical pursuits as well as social life.
    Sorry for the long-windedness, but I guess my question boils down to: Is it probable that one can continue to excel (or pursue excellence) in anything outside of medicine while concurrently completing a medical education or does the volume of material and time needed to master it demand a fairly singular focus to the exclusion (or significant reduction) of other interests?
    And can both be done without completely sacrificing a social life?
    Cause I love having cake but not much point if you can't eat it, too :)
  11. Styria

    Styria

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    I've taken some visceral manipulation courses through the Barral Institute. This has meant being the only osteopathic student in a room filled with PT, massage therapists, and token other chiropractors, reiki, structural integrators, or whatever else body workers feel like calling themselves. Most had a certain amount of awe for osteopaths and were excited that a "real" one was there, who would manipulate and not abandon what we're taught. It doesn't take long before you see the difference.

    Everything you learn in medical school will help your OMM. There is more anatomy. Histology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, etc. all contribute. You learn more different kinds of techniques and principles for them, in less amount of time. And you're learning it from physicians.

    Then you can go to a Barral course, catch mistake after mistake, and sit through it because the techniques are useful; and you can have already learned a technique or two for each organ at a good school or the AAO Convocation. Likewise, the 40-hour Osteopathy in the Cranial Field (only open to MD, DO, DDS, and their students) blows away the CranioSacral Therapy course. Many more doors are open to you as a physician, even in manipulation itself, and you can take outside ones too if it suits you.

    The PTs there did have some nice tricks, mainly of eyeballing angle measurements for range of motion. I'm sure you can learn all of their material as a DO. You can also do all of these things as an MD (yes, learn OMM too) and have the physician training.

    As for your life... You wouldn't regret going through medical school and residency. You'll have enough time for some kind of life. Physical activity is a good break from your studying, and martial arts and yoga (my last preceptor's opinion was Tai Chi > yoga > not doing anything, because movement is more important than the static positions of yoga) fit into that well. I don't know that you'll have much time to learn new material in them versus practicing and getting better at what you already know. Focus more on medical school your first semester and you'll have a better idea of how much time you need or can spare.
  12. CopToEM

    CopToEM OMS-2

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    From reading your posts you strike me as the person who is going to regret not becoming a physician if you don't do it now. Academically you seem capable of doing so, mentally you seem capable of doing so, and I think you will look back and question your decision to become a PT.

    While I'm not there yet, I can tell you that my countless friends from undergrad who are in med school do have healthy relationships and have plenty of free time. This forum tends to make it seem like the end of the world, and it might be for the first semester, but you ultimately fall into a good study routine and things get easier.

    Think of all the single mothers who attend medical school and raise two children and still come out sane. In comparison to that you've got it pretty easy.

    As far as being too told... there's several in their 40s at DCOM and I believe there's one guy who either graduated or is graduating who is in his 50s. You're 31... your 'working life' is barely a quarter complete so to speak.
  13. Mosonik

    Mosonik

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    It sounds like you would be a good fit for something up the lines of PT. That isn't to say you wouldn't make a great DO but remember DOs are first and foremost PHYSICIANS and as such study and practice much broader medicine than some other health professionals. It sounds like your primary interests and passions are in the physical aspects of wellness so for that reason I would say go PT. Good luck in your decision either way, it just depends how much you want to sacrifice if your goal is ultimately achieved through either route.
  14. massagether

    massagether massagetherapist

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    Thanks for the great reply!
    My main MA is tai chi (supplemented w pa kua, hsing yi, and jujitsu). I've been doing it since I was 14 and couldn't imagine spending any length of my life without it. Kind of a healthy addiction.
    Preceptor - is that a tutor or faculty member? Was that in med school?
  15. Styria

    Styria

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    A preceptor is someone who is training you. Teaching you precepts, as it were, and it implies much more authority and experience than a tutor. For medical students it's almost always an attending physician. For an EMT student, a credentialed EMT or paramedic. In both cases you're functioning under their license.

    In this case, my attending on my last rotation, which was with a doctor who only does OMM.

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