Sep 1, 2016
2
0
Need some Career advice opinions and Information. Any PTs or PA's out there please give me your opinion.
im a Senior majoring in Exercise science and Health promotion with career interests in Physical Therapy or Physicians Assistant hopefully to specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Ive looked a both professions and I'm having trouble picking a route. I've weighed some pros and cons of each that are very alarming to be such as PT's having to increase patients seen an hour because of insurance rates and the low pay to debt ratio. and PA with the more invasive type of treatments but possibly less autonomy as a clinician. I want to keep one foot in the door for Physical Therapy and Strength and conditioning side because I really have a love for movement and Exercise. however I feel that for the long term PA is simply a better choice because of the way things are going with insurances and healthcare in the future and I could see myself practicing medicine in this type of fashion. I would like to also try Emergency medicine as a PA.

some facts I've seen that stand out to me:
Physical therapy:
120k Debt - 50-60k starting pay- Max out at 90-100k after 20 years.
- Very hard and very demanding to open your own clinic for not much more pay
- Cash based PT is hard because people don't want to pay out of pocket.

PA-
-100k debt for schooling- 80-90k starting?
- Higher ceiling for Pay
- Great job outlook
- Possibility to work in Emergency Medicine
-less autonomy?
- Flexible work hours?

if you could give your opinions and thoughts on each it would be greatly appreciated.
 

jblil

7+ Year Member
Dec 1, 2010
1,185
715
East Coast
Do you meet the patient contact-hrs requirements for PA programs? They used to be fairly high, higher than for PT.
 

kellerac

2+ Year Member
Jul 19, 2016
117
58
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
Commenting because I'd like to know as well.

Want to do healtchare, pros/cons to each.
 

tonydo93

2+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2016
91
26
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
Need some Career advice opinions and Information. Any PTs or PA's out there please give me your opinion.
im a Senior majoring in Exercise science and Health promotion with career interests in Physical Therapy or Physicians Assistant hopefully to specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Ive looked a both professions and I'm having trouble picking a route. I've weighed some pros and cons of each that are very alarming to be such as PT's having to increase patients seen an hour because of insurance rates and the low pay to debt ratio. and PA with the more invasive type of treatments but possibly less autonomy as a clinician. I want to keep one foot in the door for Physical Therapy and Strength and conditioning side because I really have a love for movement and Exercise. however I feel that for the long term PA is simply a better choice because of the way things are going with insurances and healthcare in the future and I could see myself practicing medicine in this type of fashion. I would like to also try Emergency medicine as a PA.

some facts I've seen that stand out to me:
Physical therapy:
120k Debt - 50-60k starting pay- Max out at 90-100k after 20 years.
- Very hard and very demanding to open your own clinic for not much more pay
- Cash based PT is hard because people don't want to pay out of pocket.

PA-
-100k debt for schooling- 80-90k starting?
- Higher ceiling for Pay
- Great job outlook
- Possibility to work in Emergency Medicine
-less autonomy?
- Flexible work hours?

if you could give your opinions and thoughts on each it would be greatly appreciated.
I've actually had this debate myself just this last year! I decided on PT track personally.

Both professions have incredible job outlook, so I don't think you need to put that into the equation. Here is how I see it.

PT
- Debt for PT school is generally higher, yes but it also depends on the program. You can find cheaper (and I say that loosely) programs for PT, and then there are those that are upwards of 120K. I would say if you do choose PT, a huge factor to be considered is the cost. If you can get away with going to an institution that is 70K vs 110k, do it regardless of location preference.
- I wouldn't say starting pay is 50-60k. Of course it is location dependent, but a lot of new PTs i've talked to that recently graduated are starting around 70-75 and that's in the outpatient setting which is normally the most saturated. If money was a big concern for you to start with, you could do travel PT (make a ton more), home health, or pick up extra PRN work a few days a month to make 5k+ extra a year for minimal work.
- PTs have incredibly flexible hours from what i've seen. I know a PT who works 4 days a week. He does three 12 hour shifts, one 4 hour shift, and every other day of the week off. Another PT who does four 10 hour shifts and has Wednesdays off plus weekends. Based on that and talking to them, it seems though with a lot of places you can set up your schedule how you'd like.
-PTs have a lot of autonomy, and it's only getting better. Ex. PTs in Wisconsin are now allowed to order X-rays, where as before they weren't anywhere. The job itself on a day to day basis provides complete autonomy in my opinion.
- Pay ceiling seems to be around 85-100 depending on location and which setting, but at the end of the day if more money is a concern there is always the option of the PRN work.

PA
- I can't speak as much on PA cause I haven't looked into it nearly as much as PT, but starting pay factoring in location and speciality seems to be 90-100K. Ceiling seems to be 120-140, with the top (minority) of the profession appearing to make 150-160k.
- I'm not sure how flexible the hours are, but it seems like PAs don't have quite as flexible of hours as PTs.
- Less autonomy for sure, but based on PAs that i've talked to you gain more and more autonomy the longer you're in the profession and as your relationship grows with the physician you're working with.
- A huge upside to PA is that you can switch specialties with ease. I suppose the same can be said about PT.
- Less time spent in the program (2 years vs 3), and generally less debt.
- Requirements to get into PA school are more extensive than PT. Ex. 1000+ hours working in a direct patient health care profession, usually just as if not more competitive, etc. If you don't have those hours and the other requirements, you may need to make a year off to get those hours. What are your stats? Cum GPA, Pre req GPA, GRE, etc. Somethings to keep in mind.

Those are just my immediate thoughts on the two. At the end of the day, both programs will be expensive, both have great job outlook, and you'll make good money in both. Have you shadowed both extensively? I encourage you to go with the one that you can see yourself doing more, cause at the end of the day making 20-40k more doing a job you don't enjoy or aren't as passionate about isn't worth that extra income, and vice versa. Really you can't go wrong either way!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: beyoutiful_sunshine