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PT School with family?

Discussion in 'Physical Therapy' started by TraumaQueen, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. TraumaQueen

    2+ Year Member

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    Hello, everyone. I'd like some thoughts and opinions on my situation. I've always been interested in the medical field. During college, I decided that I wanted to become a podiatrist. I was a pre-med major, took all of the required courses, and did well. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford tuition (and couldn't take out a loan because the economy went down that year) and had to leave college during my senior year. I've been out of school for 5 years. Now, I'm finally back in college and plan to get my bachelor's degree the end of next semester.

    I would like to continue my education immediately after (I had enough time off!) However, during the years off from school, I got married and had children. I don't know if I'll be able to be a podiatrist now. I'm in my late twenties, have children to care for, and I think podiatry school will just be too demanding. I also will not be able to work, which will put a huge dent in my family's budget. We have to pay tuition for my children to go to school (one just started school), plus rent, bills, etc.

    So to be realistic, I've started thinking about other careers that I was interested in in the past - chiropractic, physical therapy, optometry, psychology, etc. I'm most interested in going to PT school now. There are some programs that are geared toward working adults who are looking for a career change (classes are held in evenings and weekends, but are just as hard as full-time day programs). Most likely, I'd apply to these programs so that I'd still be able to work. I think I'd genuinely be happy as a physical therapist. I've seen the wonders that PTs do, and it really is a rewarding career.

    So I just have some questions about PT school. Is the coursework very, very hard? Is it doable with a family to care for? Is there anything you'd recommend I study or do before starting school? Please leave any other advice or opinions on PT school. For current/graduate PT students, what did you think of the program you're in? Is it worth it??? Exactly how long does it take to become a PT?

    I am an EMT and have shadowed many different health professionals. I have all the prereqs required for PT/med school/PA program, etc. I would love to stay in the health field and help people, but also have time for my family.

    Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!
     
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  3. Schland

    2+ Year Member

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    Where do you live? I know Nova Southeastern has a part time program which is 4 years and you only go to campus once a month I think for the hands on material and the rest is lectures online. HOWEVER, I have met some students from that program who have said it was awful. I think the first graduating class from this hybrid program is next year and I'd be interested to see how they do on the NPTE. I have also heard that they don't do acute care internships which I think it highly unfortunate. There may be other hybrid programs like that but I am not aware of them.

    As far as having a family I know some people who have had children and made it through school so it is possible. I personally think it would have been very challenging for me as the demands of PT school are pretty high. I don't think I ever found the coursework hard per say but a lot in a short period of time.

    Generally PT school is 3 years, full time, which involves class work and internships in different settings. I think it is a great and rewarding career.
     
  4. swolecat

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    MOST of the students in my program have one kid and a few have several. I guess that proves it's possible.
     
  5. jblil

    7+ Year Member

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    OP - you are asking questions that most of us cannot answer because we do not know your family dynamics. How many children do you have, how old they are (you mentioned one started school, what about the other(s)?), how much attention they need every day, whether your spouse does all/some/none of the housework, can your family make it if you work part-time, etc.

    I can only give you one data point: in addition to class time, I studied 2-3 hrs per day to keep up with the schedule. On Saturdays and Sundays, I'd study for half a day, each day. I didn't find the material to be hard, it just required a lot of memorization. If you have a photographic memory, you'd breeze through many of the first-year tests.

    I think the PT programs "geared to working adults" you mentioned are all from private schools. Pay attention to the tuition, you don't want to get $150K in debt for a job that pays $65K to start. State schools offer the best deal for in-state residents, but you'd have to go full-time for 3 years.

    I have a daughter, but she's away in college; my spouse works while I go to school full-time. Everybody's situation is different, so gather the facts (and not opinions) and see how they fit into your own circumstances.
     
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  6. starrsgirl

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    I'm going through this right now and am glad to help in anyway possible. I think it's hard for some people to understand how you seemingly "settle" for a compromise solution of PT school when your original dream was podiatry. My dream was and probably always will be medical school. I'm not ashamed to say that. But as a family (hubby and 2 kids), we made a decision that the med school road (pre req years, med school years, finances, workload, residency schedule) was not the best decision for us. It's no longer just your decision when you are a non traditional, everyone needs to decide and sometimes you have to compromise to reach the best solution.

    I'm in my first semester of PT school now. I'm sure the load varies a little bit school to school, but it has been extremely challenging to me. (I say to myself everyday, thank goodness I didn't go med school because they go Saturdays as well and I desperately need Saturday to even see my family). I'm in school full time (8-5pm generally, though there are breaks in the day). I average about 2 hours of studying during the day Mon-Friday and about 4-5 hours per day on Saturday and Sunday. Although I don't feel like I'm way behind my classmates, I certainly am somewhere towards the back of the pack. For me, it's purely a time thing. My studying per day is more broken up and I'm probably looking at the material less than others.

    Honestly, I really wanted to go to the Nova Hybrid program. I think it would have been a perfect fit for me. But I had lots of application problems with them (frustrating because they say the program favors non traditionals but I didn't find it particularly friendly for non traditionals). In the end, I'm going to a very highly ranked state school, I can tell it's a top notch program but I'm likely paying for that in work load now.

    I believe I'm the only student in my program with kids. At the risk of sounding sexist, I do think it's harder for many moms to be in schools vs dads. Of course it depends on how your family works now, but I took care of most of the kids needs before I was in school and still try to. So I get home from school at around 6pm and then cook dinner and then give the kids baths and then read stories and then get clothes ready for the next day and then pack lunches and then sign permission slips and then clean the bathrooms and then try to do laundry. It's not that my husband doesn't help (he does and has been amazing), but it's just different on his side. I'm not explaining this part very well but maybe you can understand....perhaps it just mom guilt but the load still falls heavily on me.

    Financially, our plan is to do this road without debt. (We are big Dave Ramsey advocates). But the reality is hard. Our biggest expense each month is a massive school/daycare bill for 2 kids. We downsized a truck to a cheaper fuel efficient car (paid off both cars before I started school), we cut everything we could (cable, eating out, kids extra curriculars, family memberships to places, all home improvement spending). We elected to stay where we were living (instead of moving closer to school) to saving moving expenses and rent....so that makes my commute somewhat long and annoying. Everyone packs lunches from home every single day. We ask for clothes for the kids from grandparents (instead of toys) and the grandparents also help us out as needed to reduce daycare costs. (For example, they will probably help take care of the kids during my shortened summer semester to save a month and a half of daycare). My best piece of advice is to do your budget first, before you even start this journey. I was able to work and do pre req classes on the weekend initially (and a few evening and distance courses). So I completely covered my pre req tuition and we didn't have any daycare cost since hubby was home on the weekends. We never saw each other, but we made it. In the end, I chose the cheapest state school over pushing the Nova option (we would have had to take loans for Nova). So I'm not bringing in any money but at least I haven't signed on the dotted line for school debt yet either.

    On a random note, my biggest unexpected expense was getting PT shadowing hours. I hated when schools required so many. Of course I understand the importance, but it's a huge financial drain too. Because my kids were little, I had to pay a babysitter $10 per every 1 hour of observation hours. If some of the schools require 60+ hours....yeah....it adds up. I felt like it was an exercise in paying money just to apply.

    It took me 4 years from the moment I decided I was interested in PT to start school. I definitely did the slow route as I was working and paying for classes 1-2 at a time....and took some time off when my kids were born too. Honestly, if I had to do that part again, I would just compress it and do it full time n a year, even if that incurred a small amount of debt.
     
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  7. TraumaQueen

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    Thanks, everyone, for your input. To answer your questions about my family dynamics, I have 2 kids. The oldest is 4 and just started pre-k (2.5 hours a day). The younger is 1 year old. I stay home with them in the daytime and go to work part-time (usually 2-3 days a week) in the evening, when my husband gets home from work. Since they are still young, they need A LOT of attention. My husband helps out around the house - he watches the kids when I work, he'll cook dinner, vacuum, etc- but as starrsgirl said, there's the "mom role" with a heavier load. We live in NYC. It's so expensive to live here, but we cannot move because my husband's job is here, and he's making most of the money that we live off of (for instance, he was able to pay off both of our tuitions and that's how I got back into school.)

    The tuition that I've seen in the weekend PT programs are around $87K from start to finish. I don't mind paying this, because for undergrad, tuition and room & board totaled over $35K a year. So PT school would be less expensive than my undergrad.

    I actually did not hear of the Nova hybrid program. I will look into that now. Thank you.
     
  8. DesertPT

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    I could not agree about the shadowing hours thing more...doing just a little bit more than the required or "recommended" observation hours for the schools I want to attend has cost me well over $1000 in lost time at work...it's the biggest expense of the entire process but it doesn't occur to most people as it isn't presented as a "fee" like the GRE or application fees are.

    I also really agree that taking out some reasonable loans to get through school in a quarter of the time is definitely the way to go...my dad took the better part of two decades to get a bachelor's degree, but he never had student debt, but he has always preached to me to just keep going to schools as much as possible and don't stop until it's done...but everyone has to make decisions based on their own circumstances.
     
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