jakeandsadie

10+ Year Member
Jan 5, 2009
12
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Hi Everyone,

I need some advice about job training/entry as an older (51 year old) non-trad student. I have a BS in a science field (GPA 3.53) and have worked for many years as a freelance technical writer. It was a great field for me (I made about 70K/year) until the recession gutted it.

I am looking for something much more secure, and have always liked the medical fields. Recently, I've taken all the pre-reqs for that would qualify me for Nursing and PTA school (and only need one more course for the DPT), with a GPA of 4.0. I like PT a lot more than Nursing (I've been observing both fields), but really need everyone's advice about the following...

--How easy it is to get a job/enter the job market as a PTA (at my age)? Will people hire an older worker? (I need some honesty here.)

--Are there any opportunities for advancement (teaching/writing) if I only have a BS and am licensed as a PTA? I don't want to shortchange myself, but I only have a few more years on the job market and the DTP would be MUCH more costly in terms of finances and family impact. Also, I like patient care/hate paperwork and it seems the PTs have a lot more to do with insurance than PTAs.

--Do you see people working as PTAs in their 60's? Or does the physical aspect of the job become too hard?

--Do you think the Health Care Reform bill will negatively impact PT and PTA work opportunities?

Thanks in advance for your time and advice!
 
Feb 2, 2010
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To simply answer your questions:

I know at least a few PTA's who are at least in their 50's and still going. Most of them are getting eager about retiring, but that's at least partly due to them having done it for quite some time. I'm sure that as long as you don't have any physical limitations (no immediate cardiovascular or musculoskeletal injuries that could abbreviate your life/ability to work) then they have no reason to hold your age against you.

Advancement in terms of teaching? Just like any other field, of course it's there - if you're willing to get your masters or doctorate (and not a DPT - you cant teach with that)

If you're looking for a career change, PTA seems like a good, quick shift. if you're looking for a career shift that will pay you what you used to make, you'll need a DPT.

that should help some.
 

jakeandsadie

10+ Year Member
Jan 5, 2009
12
0
0
Status
Thanks for the advice. What degree do you need to teach? I want to work clinically for several years, but do have a teaching background (private prep school, college, corporate) as well as writing and enjoy teaching a lot! I guess I'm wondering if teaching would be a good (or even possible) option once I hit my 60's and have a few years of experience under my belt. I figured that I would need a DPT to do so.

It seems that there are also a lot of 'informal' education opportunities in the clinic setting (helping patients learn self-care, etc.). That appeals to me, too.
 

johncronejr

10+ Year Member
Mar 8, 2009
308
5
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DPT / OTD
You could teach in a PT or PTA program with a DPT. Many programs have MSPT's teaching.
 

MotionDoc

PT/PhD
Oct 29, 2009
151
0
0
Status
Rehab Sci Student
You could teach in a PT or PTA program with a DPT. Many programs have MSPT's teaching.
Just remember, if you want to teach elements of a course here and there, it is a viable option as either a PT or PTA...some clinicians can even teach a substantial amount of a certain course, but rarely do they coordinate and/or teach the entire thing unless they were on faculty prior to the DPT shift.

As a PTA, the large majority of your time will be spent teaching patients. So if one on one teaching can fill that professional gap for you, then no need to worry. In addition, depending on your mastery of a certain subject area and your work environment, you potentially have the opportunity to coordinate in-house continuing ed, and teach in that regard. If you make this clear when you interview, you may be brought on in a dual role (assuming this is a large multi-center clinic that can benefit from inhouse training).

In the end, you have many options...just keep searching, don't settle, and SELL your skills.
 

jakeandsadie

10+ Year Member
Jan 5, 2009
12
0
0
Status
Thanks, everyone, for your advice! I enjoy teaching in all settings...one-on-one, small group, and traditional classroom. It's great to know that there may be some opportunities to use that skill.

If I were younger, I would probably pursue the DPT, but it is a lot of intense studying, time, and money...not to mention the impact on my family. I admire you all for earning that degree, though!