Current PT's, (or even students) I need some advice. 3rd semester PT student having some regrets.

dptstudent2018!

2+ Year Member
Sep 2, 2016
7
1
Status
DPT / OTD
Hey everyone, I feel as though I'm starting to have some regrets for the wrong reasons. A little background first: I was a biomedical science major because I loved the material and it made sense to me. My plan was always to go to PT school, and that gave me the motivation to make straight A's throughout college. I am not trying to brag by any means, I am saying this because the better I did in school, the more people would start to question me. Why PT school? Why not be a REAL doctor? MONEY PRESTIGE MONEY PRESTIGE!!! Now, I won't say that I never had second thoughts, but I was always strong in knowing that I was doing what I loved, not chasing money. Recently, as I am accruing debt and reading forum after forum about the poor PT salary, those people are starting to get to me. I love PT, I really do. But I'm just starting to wonder if I should've looked harder into different field of med school to see if there was something I loved there too. Idk, maybe I'm just looking for some encouraging words. What I love about PT is time with patients. I REALLY want to make a difference. I've also started to wonder if maybe i could've made more of a difference as a physician as well. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this lately, and just writing it even feels somewhat cathartic. I am someone who tends to care entirely too much what others think of me, and I think that is a large part of what has me questioning myself. I'm just sick of the "you didn't want to do med school?" discussion. Anyways, thanks for reading. I'm realizing now that there isn't particularly a question here, so do with that what you will. Have a fantastic day everyone.
 
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DPThopeful1859

2+ Year Member
Apr 27, 2016
141
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Pre-Physical Therapy
What you choose to do with YOUR life is no one's business but your own. If you have a love and passion for people and PT stood out to you as being that profession that could satisfy your passion, then do it. I wanted to get into PT for the same reason: developing rapport with my patients. I don't want to meet with someone for 10-15 minutes, write them a prescription for their diagnosis and be on to the next....I want to develop a relationship with the clientele I treat because to me, that's what inspires me to want to do it for the rest of my life, regardless if I earn 65-75k or more or slightly less. You CAN make a difference as a PT, depending on which specialty you go into...even if it's ortho, neuro, peds, whatever! You can specialize, take continuing ed classes, make a difference in YOUR community. This is coming from someone who has fought vigorously for 6-7 years just to get accepted into PT school and it finally happened to me this year. Follow your heart and pursue your passion.
 
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dptstudent2018!

2+ Year Member
Sep 2, 2016
7
1
Status
DPT / OTD
Thanks. I agree, it's just in my nature. It's something I have constantly struggled with throughout my life. But you are absolutely right.
Dpthopeful congrats!!!
 
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Jun 8, 2015
32
4
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
you can shadow a physician just to experience the daily life of being a doctor, then you will know what fits you the best. also talk with current med students to see how the school life can be and if the long term journey of medical training is worthy or not. good luck
 
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NewTestament

7+ Year Member
Nov 4, 2010
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DPT / OTD
Now, I won't say that I never had second thoughts, but I was always strong in knowing that I was doing what I loved, not chasing money. Recently, as I am accruing debt and reading forum after forum about the poor PT salary, those people are starting to get to me. I love PT, I really do. But I'm just starting to wonder if I should've looked harder into different field of med school to see if there was something I loved there too.
You need to balance passion with money. At the end of the day, you have to pay the bills and secure your financial future. You wouldn't do something you loved if it didn't pay the bills, would you? What is poor salary, BTW? Everyone has a different definition. If you make $1 million/year, then $80k is terrible. If you're a grad student with no money, $80k looks great. You can make $100k gross if you do home health in a rural location. Believe me, I've been offered those positions. You can also travel like me and make more.

However, if you take a job at a small private practice in a large city with a lot of competition, you will make $60-70k at most. If you have large student loans, I recommend you don't take those jobs until you pay off your loans. I know I'm blunt when I say this, but it's irresponsible to spend $100k for PT school for a job that pays $60k, regardless how much you love PT.

Physicians do not make a lot of money, BTW. I don't know how much, but I would guess $170-175k for an entry-level physician, only after 8 years of school and 3 years as a resident where you work you ass off and make nothing. Don't forget increased stress, more hours, and more reliability. Hollywood portrays physicians as rich, but that's not true. The only rich physicians own large clinics or multiple clinics, and have years of experience
 
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dptstudent2018!

2+ Year Member
Sep 2, 2016
7
1
Status
DPT / OTD
New Testament, thank you for the advice. I will likely finish school with ~70-80k debt in total. It's sucks, but it is what it is. Also I'd say twice as much as a PT is pretty significant. I don't know what I'm going to do after graduation yet, but whatever it is I will almost certainly be working prn as well until I can knock out my loans. But it's the prestige as much as anything. I want to be respected, but I know that I can accomplish that as a PT as well. They say whatever you do, be the best at it and that's what I plan to do.
 
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noyceguy

7+ Year Member
Aug 17, 2010
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New Testament, thank you for the advice. I will likely finish school with ~70-80k debt in total. It's sucks, but it is what it is. Also I'd say twice as much as a PT is pretty significant. I don't know what I'm going to do after graduation yet, but whatever it is I will almost certainly be working prn as well until I can knock out my loans. But it's the prestige as much as anything. I want to be respected, but I know that I can accomplish that as a PT as well. They say whatever you do, be the best at it and that's what I plan to do.
I will go ahead and bust your bubble and tell you that once you are working in the medical establishment no one understands or respects what we do. There is no prestige at all in being a physical therapist. I'm sorry. That said, it remains a great, fun career that pays the bills.
 
Jun 15, 2015
61
24
Why don't people every mention owning your own practice. My older brothers best friend started his own practice. Just him and a secretary. My friend who's a couple of years older then me just got a junior partnership along side a Very wealthy PT and a spinal surgeon. My uncle does wealth management finance for a PT who rakes in 2 mil a year. There IS money in PT.

Guess what guys, no one gets rich working for someone else, and no one gets rich working 40 hrs a week. Owning your own practice is tangible, is it not? The money is there but expecting someone to hand it to you just because you have a DPT is ridiculous. Hell even all my friends who got good jobs in finance are all having to go back to school for MBAs and masters in financial engineering just so they can have a chance to break 6 figures. More education is the trend right now for every profession. Also, if you work for a practice that makes a lot of money you can expect more money.

The average PT generates 250k in revenue a year, the median salary is 85k, open your own practice and that 250k is all yours, minus whatever you pay a secretary/medical billing. In NYC this set up is very common. Even know one PT who has no secretary, Its just him in an office, he carries a phone in his pocket and lets the less urgent calls hit voicemail. then after work he does all the billing and secretarial work himself. He's only 28 and making a lot. granted he earns ever penny of it. works really hard.

Correct me if i'm wrong.....
 
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patriot6

2+ Year Member
Nov 12, 2015
74
105
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Resident [Any Field]
Hey everyone, I feel as though I'm starting to have some regrets for the wrong reasons. A little background first: I was a biomedical science major because I loved the material and it made sense to me. My plan was always to go to PT school, and that gave me the motivation to make straight A's throughout college. I am not trying to brag by any means, I am saying this because the better I did in school, the more people would start to question me. Why PT school? Why not be a REAL doctor? MONEY PRESTIGE MONEY PRESTIGE!!! Now, I won't say that I never had second thoughts, but I was always strong in knowing that I was doing what I loved, not chasing money. Recently, as I am accruing debt and reading forum after forum about the poor PT salary, those people are starting to get to me. I love PT, I really do. But I'm just starting to wonder if I should've looked harder into different field of med school to see if there was something I loved there too. Idk, maybe I'm just looking for some encouraging words. What I love about PT is time with patients. I REALLY want to make a difference. I've also started to wonder if maybe i could've made more of a difference as a physician as well. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this lately, and just writing it even feels somewhat cathartic. I am someone who tends to care entirely too much what others think of me, and I think that is a large part of what has me questioning myself. I'm just sick of the "you didn't want to do med school?" discussion. Anyways, thanks for reading. I'm realizing now that there isn't particularly a question here, so do with that what you will. Have a fantastic day everyone.
FWIW, I left PT school after 1 semester and applied to medical school. Now, I'm in residency with no regrets. You've got to really tease out your motivations -- trying to appease or impress others is a terrible one. Such a motivation won't carry you through the 27th hour of a 28 hr call that you're repeating every 4th night for the next couple years. PM if you have any specific questions; would be happy to chat.
 

DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
2,656
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Physical Therapist
I'm just sick of the "you didn't want to do med school?"
I've literally never had anyone ask me this...who the heck cares? And if someone does ask, the answer is "because I wasn't interested in being a physician". Same reason you didn't go to law school or engineering school or motorcycle repair school. These constant comparisons that get made between PT and medicine are bogus - PT and medicine are about the same degree of similarity as PT and dentistry, but we don't compare the latter all the time.

We are experts in rehabilitation who consult and collaborate with physicians among numerous other professionals, not "fake doctors". We have a much more specialized, narrow knowledge base than physicians compared to everything you could know about the human body and its care, but that's why we are good at what we do and we don't try to take on things that need to be treated by a physician. Docs would suck at what we do and we would suck at what docs do. So stop thinking PTs are trying to be something their not - because their not. Nobody accuses a physician who tells a pt to exercise of trying to be a "fake PT". Move beyond this silliness and you will be a lot happier.

For the most part, only the people of the internet care about these things anyway. In real life, physicians (other than maybe PM&R) will order a consult from you or refer a pt to you and then move on with their day. Docs have plenty to think about, they don't sit around in the hospital analyzing what PT is up to. For some reason PT students worry a whole lot about what doctors and med students think of them, but you don't ever see a doctor or a med student worrying about what PTs think of them do you? So drop that crap, go to work, do your thing and stop thinking that other people are concerning themselves with you or your professional choices - I promise you their not. They've got plenty going on in their own lives to worry about.

On the other hand, if you do in fact want to be a physician or a dentist or a lawyer or an engineer or a motorcycle mechanic, and don't want to be a PT, by all means go do what you desire. But if you do in fact want to be a PT, then it doesn't really matter what asinine comparisons people insist on making because they talk faster than they think, does it?
 
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Jun 19, 2016
7
4
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
Future PT student here. DesertPT makes some great points. Don't let what others say affect your confidence in your decision! I've actually worried about some of the same things as you, so I understand what you're saying. In my sophomore year of undergrad, my rich aunt brought up being a doctor. She basically said, "You could do anything, why are you stopping at physical therapy?" (Which in hindsight is pretty rude) I had never even considered it, and after initially brushing it off, I thought I might actually want to pursue it. I loved the idea of the respect it garners, the opportunities for nonprofit work, and just the sheer volume of information doctors know. I was fascinated by the process and certainly not deterred by the pay. Physical therapy had always been the plan, but I hadn't articulated the passions that make PT a great fit for me personally. I spoke with a bunch of doctors and PTs and eventually confirmed that being a doctor is absolutely not for me. I realized I was enamored with my idea of what med school and being a doctor would be Instead of the reality. To your points from before:

1. You said connecting with your patients is important to you, and that's unambiguously easier in PT (in most situations, sorry for generalizing). Doctors can have great rapport and be amazing at remembering things about patients' lives, but they are often simply too busy to worry about really connecting with each and every patient.


2. If you do really want to be as "prestigious" as possible, you can advance your specialization in PT as much as you want. Completing a Neurologic residency at Johns Hopkins sounds pretty damn impressive to me. obviously there are no guarantees, but pursuing a job at a prestigious location could also satisfy that a bit. People aren't really impressed by you telling them you're a PT unless they understand what it took to get there. Even so, people generally are a little more impressed by PTs outside of the medical field. Just because it's not as prestigious as a doctor doesn't mean you won't be respected.

3. Patriot6 brought up another great point. You absolutely have to want to be a doctor to make it through medical school and residency. The motivation can't be that you want prestige and love the white coat. I definitely would burn out if that's why I entered medical school. There are also terrible hours and little sleep, and you can't guarantee you'll be placed in the specialty you want anyway (as far as I understand it). Find the specific reasons why you want to be a PT or doctor, and if there are a lot of good concrete ones to be a doctor, consider where to go next.

Overall, it could really be helpful to talk to one or two professors about this. Ask them why they went into PT and whether they have regrets if you're comfortable with them. Find some doctors and see what they say as well. Hope you get it figured out!

Sent from my HTC6515LVW using SDN mobile
 
Feb 26, 2017
8
5
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Physical Therapist
If being a PT is what you truly love to do, work your ass off and become a PT and serve those who need you. That's what I did... however 3 years in and now I have a change of heart so I'm looking for something else when I go back to Canada in 1 month.