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Is it worth it

Discussion in 'Pre-Physical Therapy' started by njstudent, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. njstudent

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    I've been reading posts, and I have to say that what I've read irks me. I've made some generalizations based on what I've read. I enjoy working for a physical therapist and I would like to become one. But my options are tied to doing a DPT program and going into deeper debt than taking an MPT route with an employer that pays for the t-DPT. I'm hoping that I'll be able to enter into a state school. How much do medical doctors borrow to go to school? I know I'll have to borrow at least 60k. Salaries are expected to remain the same regardless of education (bachelors, MPT, DPT)...so I'll be spending many more years getting out of debt compared to those already educated as pt's. There will always be jobs for physical therapists but with socialized health care around the corner will I really be able to live as a DPT or just scrabble by...what about dreams of a family etc.

    I could get paid just as much, if not more studying to be a nurse in a year with 0 debt. And after a few years go back for a masters and be paid even more for what I know. Years of education is a trade off with years of living life. I would have this benefit as well.

    Nurses are in more demand than PTs.

    So my question is. Why? Why the extra two years of education now as compared to how it used to be? Who had this idea in the first place and were they living in a bubble?

    I know this is an emotional topic. For me, I have other reasons that compel me to be a physical therapist. Frankly, I feel like I'm being torn between two options. The one, being happy doing something I love, with a very big risk of not being able to live off of it...is this even a choice. Vs. working a job and making a life on top of that (vs the calling). If you understand what I'm saying you can understand my dilemma. I'm sure others share this.
     
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  3. njstudent

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    DPT may be a push to make physical therapists a cut above regular therapists or that they give better care to patients. Is this reality? My mother was a nurse who went to school to become a cardiovascular clinical specialist. When she graduated only a handful of hospitals around the COUNTRY new of these let alone wanted them. They were the next generation. They were also compensated for the extra knowledge they had as basic economics would apply. They were few, they become more in demand. Is this really what's happening? Or is the DPT just a show?

    To be a "dummy" in a field one just goes to school, right. To really know what you're doing you must practice. So the general breakdown for salary is as follows for higher education as a dummy.

    MBA...2 years school...100,000+
    lawyer...2-3 years school...100,000+
    doctors...world to themselves
    DPT...3-4 years...60,000

    What this is all telling me is that DPT is new, and isn't recognized either by the other health care practioners or the insurance companies as having a legitimate claim for higher reimbursement. How does this change? Who is FIGHTING for a change in the field (because that's what it takes in this World)? I figure these factors (please add some if you think) determine the long term viability and justifiability of the "DPT" title and how physical therapists as a whole will be treated and treat themselves.

    I've asked a handful of people that I respect about the field. They have no special interest in PT as far as I know. They're notion that a person with a four year degree to study for another 3-4 years for physical therapy doesn't make sense for the benefits today. The notion of a person going to college for physical therapy made sense.

    You can ask most of the people who have received physical therapy and they'll tell you volumes about the physical therapists that helped them with adulation. But I feel and observe that the rest of the World treats PTs as they have been in the past. For DPT to be legit only the test of time will tell and also how DPTs now change the health care World. In line with Kennedy, what they have to offer the health care World.

    I know for sure that being placed in the same place as a person with a bachelors or masters, as a "DPT" with all things being the same will not change a thing. And I know that change will not come with one person's action alone. And I can't be the first person to wonder these things or the first to want to do anything about them. I'll be looking around in newspapers and online for DPTs stepping up. If I don't find anything but a silence then I have an answer.
     
  4. bigdan

    bigdan SDN Donor
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    Hey - hands down, without thinking - do your "calling".

    There's a couple of reasons I say that: 1) You're lucky to have found something that you feel so strongly about...many people do not ever find that, and that passion for what you're doing is what helps to get you through the sh*tty parts of school/job/etc. 2) Think about a job that you either hated, or did for reasons other than actually WANTING to do that job. Sucks, right?

    So - I think you should put no more thought into it, and should find the best PT school that fits you, whether that's state school MPT or whatever works. And you CAN pay off the schooling and still live your life...if NO ONE ever paid off loans for PT school, one of two things would happen - either they wouldn't give PTs loan money, or no one would go into PT. There are some realities: it will be difficult to earn a six figure salary as a 40 hr/wk employee PT. DPT has not yet been financially "validated" by reimbursement entities, and thus, has not been validated by employers. But you can make money.

    If you insist on doing something for money only:
    - I think an RN to CRNA education is a great return on investment. Check out some of the jobs on gaswork.com. You're talking a master's degree and somewhere between $130K - 200K for like 40hrs of work with no call. Nice.
    - Look into medical ultrasonography. You can do an associates degree plus a certificate program, then get like 80K by playing your cards right. Also nice.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!

    dc
     
  5. jesspt

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    I see a lot of concern over PT salary, but I've never actually met a PT who was struggling to live their life. EVERY therapist I have ever know has been able to make a living that was relatively comfortable.

    If you are as interested in nursing as PT, then go for the job that has a higher financial return on investment. But, if, after researchign the field and the potential changes that are in store, you still feel that you're being pulled toward PT, then I say go for it.

    I can also tell you that I graduated from a private PT school, had accumulated $60,000 of debt, and graduated during a time where the Balanced Budget Act took effect which caused the only period of unemplyment in the history of the PT profession, which in turn caused PT salary to drop precipitously. All of this, and I am still managing to live a comfortable life with a wife and two kids and live in a major metropolitan area.

    So, do I think PTs are paid what they are worth? No.
    Do I think that there are better returns on your financial investment than PT? Yes.
    Do I think one can be comfortable living on a PT salary? Absolutely.
     
  6. kjvandal

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    you also have to keep in mind the work enviornment you get as a pt. If you work in a private practice, you're hours are established; no coming in on call like a nurse or a doc would do. Also, Think about the pressures that doctors and lawyers deal with....Physical therapy is a lot less stressful, and 99% of the time your patients are stable and your not making life or death decisions (there are times where you need to pick up red flags and refer though) So remember there is more things that need to be considered then salary when deciding a profession. I have high school classmates that took 9 month technical degrees in welding/diesal mechanics that are making 40-60k a year. Just shows that salary and length of school doesn't tell the whole story.
     
  7. FitnessDoc2012

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    this thread has a good question, is all the schooling, debt, and opportunity cost lost while in school for 3 more years worth the 60k starting salary of a PT?
     
  8. TheOx777

    Moderator Emeritus 2+ Year Member

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    Let me preface the proceeding statement with a disclaimer that I am not attempting to come across as harsh, but I think of the situation like this. You(and many other posters) seem to have come to some very insightful conclusions about the profession without the help or advice of ppl on this forum. Are you looking for others to validate those conclusions?

    The DPT is still in transition, and there will be questions that persist about where the profession is headed(think Vision 2020). So we as pre-PT or PT students/professionals have at least another 9-10 yrs to truly assess how the 20 year transition to a clinical Doctorate pans out for the profession. I guess my question to you is that why compare PT to other fields; specifically in regards to scope of practice? A PT does not practice like an MD/DO, nurse, dentist, pharmacist, etc. If you are a person who is solely looking for a job in health care, then I could understand comparing each health profession. However; if you interests lie in a specific aspect of health care and you plan to make a career as a leader in that specific career field, then I contend that its best not to compare PT to other health fields.

    I definitely agree that PT may not offer the best bang for your buck considering the depth and breadth of academic and clinical education one receives, but if you know what you are getting yourself into then there should be very little surprise about program prices, career prospects, job placements, salary, etc. And if you want to go into other health care professions understand that they have their drawbacks as well. Case in point:
    Pharm: 8yr education ; avg pharm school education ~70K-300K(mean pharm salary~106K/yr)
    Dentist: 8yr education; avg dental education~70K-300K(~157K/yr)
    Nurses: Extremely variable on education and salary expectations. The nurses that approach or exceed a six figure salary are CRNA or NP
    MD/DO: 11-15 yrs education; avg med school education~75K-300K; obviously MD/DO salaries are extremely variable(~125K-750K)
    PA: 6-7yrs education. avg PA school ~50-150K(mean salary is 82K)
    Physical Therpaist: 7 yrs; avg DPT education: ~50K-200K(median salary for PT is ~80K/yr)
    Keep in mind that these numbers are generalizations from the bls(government), family and friends who all work or are related to each field. Also keep in mind that the liability for PT(at this point) is exponentially lower than pretty much all of these field, which does play a role in salary. Also, a large contingency of PTs work a "normal" work week of 35-40hrs, and many work part time hours. If PTs decided to work 50-60hrs then a six figure salary in many parts of the country is not only realistic, it would be inevitable! My overarching point is that each field in health care(and there are too many to even try to name right now) is unique. The education, career outlook, salary, work/life balance, and prestige is so variable that trying to compare is futile. I totally think it is worth considering every option, but you must note that each option will come with their own set of trials and triumphs.
     
    #7 TheOx777, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011
  9. arvest25

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    Great post, but I have to make one correction OX....I think you meant CRNA instead of CNA, hahaha!
     
  10. TheOx777

    Moderator Emeritus 2+ Year Member

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    Corrected I surely stand!!! Thanks arvest. Obviously referring to a nurse
    anesthetist and not a nursing assistant.
     
  11. myzougrad

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    I know it's not popular to turn to the Federal Government job sites but if you review the qualifications for a Physical Therapist you'll find a distinct difference in the candidates with a DPT versus MPT or PT degree. The feds will expect a DPT to participate in running the PT department (and will pay them more money to do it). Don't know how this plays into what everyone wants.
     
  12. hefe

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    Hah, pick a career you like and excel at the career you can see yourself doing for 30 years. Research, research, research. Last thing the field needs is less people who don't care much for what they do and attempts to be mindless when treating patients. You should have a desire for what you do when working in healthcare.

    The long-run effects of the DPT will be to be determined to how it exactly shakes out. I've read nearly every opinion under the sun in the last year about healthcare professions and have still stuck with PT, despite my thoughts otherwise. It's a good mix for my interests. I want to go into musckuloskeletal rehab and have decided that PT in more attractive for my interests than medical school and although I'm smart enough for it. The debate is still out whether I will be 100% sure of my decision in the future, but I keep coming back to it.
     
  13. hefe

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    This may or may not be true and it sounds nice for future PT students for the Federal Government jobs. A shift may be happening, but things are not going to turn immediately everywhere.

    At least while the 'old guard' is still around, I've seen a head leader of the physical therapy departments for inpatient rehab at a handful of large academic hospital is ran by a BPT who's been at it since the stone age.
     
  14. markelmarcel

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  15. TheOx777

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    I appreciate the applause, although I do not deserve it. "We are all entitled to our own opinions, we're just not entitled to our own facts." I think these posts elicit great conversation and maybe even debates, which is important. But plz believe that a nonobjective negative bias of the career field I have to chosen(and continue) to research incessantly will be met with some level of "push back." Let's run along and talk about other things for now.
     
  16. myzougrad

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    Check USAJobs.gov Search for Physical Therapist. Check the qualifications section where they talk about the different levels of education and grade levels for the different degrees. You'll see that a DPT (or experience) gets you a higher grade with more responsiblities and more pay. I found one job that clearly stated you would participate in administrative/department type responsibilities. Of course someone with lots of experience and a lesser degree can get to the same grade level but the DPT starts at the higher grade and pay. I'm not guessing, its a fact.
     
    #15 myzougrad, Mar 9, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  17. MinnDasota

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    As a practicing PT, I believe this is a great post. :thumbup: Ox!
     
  18. danielmax

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    Hi, I am new to the forums. Cool place.

    I play soccer and have had many injuries which has made me get massage, see doctors, PT's and get surgery.

    Out of about 15 PT's I have seen, 10 were a waste of my time, money, and hope. The doctors were not helpful. The surgery was helpful, but it might have been useless WITHOUT a good PT. 2 of my PTs were OKAY, and 1 was brilliant. I would pay so much more money to see this PT than to see the other PT's.
     

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