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I was wondering what classes were added to physical therapy programs to make them a “Doctorate” program? I’ve heard from many students that they feel as if schools make the content so much harder than it needs to be, and that they feel that it should require a doctorate to do the things PT’s do? I was just wondering everyone’s honest no bias thoughts
 

elyeti

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Not sure what classes were added to make it a "doctorate", but as a DPT myself, this career does not require a "doctorate". At best, it should be a bachelors, but really it could be an associate's degree with no issues. As a PT you are basically a technician. The "doctorate" is a whole load of BS and just screws us over in many ways:

A) costs more
B) we do not get paid more because of it
C) general public now thinks we are "doctors", think we make "doctor" money, potential for more law suits coming our way.

Maybe part of the reason why it is a doctorate is the move for more direct access, and I think giving PTs direct access is a HUGE mistake. We are in no way, shape, or form trained nor compensated to be primary care practitioners. To think PTs can screen patients for appropriateness without consulting with a physician is arrogant and down right unethical.

This is from someone who was very much pro PT residency, fellowship, and direct access all through PT school, but after getting into the field, I have completely changed my views on this.
 
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I was wondering what classes were added to physical therapy programs to make them a “Doctorate” program? I’ve heard from many students that they feel as if schools make the content so much harder than it needs to be, and that they feel that it should not require a doctorate to do the things PT’s do? I was just wondering everyone’s honest no bias thoughts
 
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Not sure what classes were added to make it a "doctorate", but as a DPT myself, this career does not require a "doctorate". At best, it should be a bachelors, but really it could be an associate's degree with no issues. As a PT you are basically a technician. The "doctorate" is a whole load of BS and just screws us over in many ways:

A) costs more
B) we do not get paid more because of it
C) general public now thinks we are "doctors", think we make "doctor" money, potential for more law suits coming our way.

Maybe part of the reason why it is a doctorate is the move for more direct access, and I think giving PTs direct access is a HUGE mistake. We are in no way, shape, or form trained nor compensated to be primary care practitioners. To think PTs can screen patients for appropriateness without consulting with a physician is arrogant and down right unethical.

This is from someone who was very much pro PT residency, fellowship, and direct access all through PT school, but after getting into the field, I have completely changed my views on this.
Wow! I appreciate the reply!!! Ik, when I tell people what the Ed. Requirements are for becoming a DPT, they all look at me with this weird face, like, “you need a doctorate to do that? They’re doctors?”

I’ve reached out to many students in programs that feel as if the material they are being taught is “fluff” and that the amount of info they expect you to know in such a short amount of time is just rediculous. I’m hearing studying 24/7. But thank you so much for your input. I’m debating becoming a PTA. I was accepted in to DPT schools — I haven’t made a sound decision yet.
 

elyeti

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Wow! I appreciate the reply!!! Ik, when I tell people what the Ed. Requirements are for becoming a DPT, they all look at me with this weird face, like, “you need a doctorate to do that? They’re doctors?”

I’ve reached out to many students in programs that feel as if the material they are being taught is “fluff” and that the amount of info they expect you to know in such a short amount of time is just rediculous. I’m hearing studying 24/7. But thank you so much for your input. I’m debating becoming a PTA. I was accepted in to DPT schools — I haven’t made a sound decision yet.
IMO there's a lot that could be cut out of PT school to save the students time and money. When I started I was studying all the damn time too, but really, you aren't going to use the vast majority of the stuff they teach you.

The only difference with PTs and PTAs is the licensing; PTs are licensed to do evals, PTAs aren't. Other than that they do the same thing in the real world but PTAs start working sooner and have a much lower debt to income ratio.

Don't get caught up in a PT degree being a "doctorate". That means absolutely nothing in the real world other than more debt, potential animosity from other, true, doctoring professions, and possibly more law suits for us since the general public might think we make more now as "doctors". PT might have been a great field in the past, but right now with how bad the debt to income ratio is, I would have to advise against pursuing a DPT.

As i was advised very recently, you could become a PA and work in orthopedics if the medical field is the only place you see yourself working. You'd be out 1 year earlier than PT students, loans will be very close to the same, and you'd make absolutely way more than PTs.

But if PT is the only thing you see yourself doing, go to the cheapest school you possibly can, work through PT school to take on less loans, and hope the APTA actually lobbies for better reimbursement.
 
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IMO there's a lot that could be cut out of PT school to save the students time and money. When I started I was studying all the damn time too, but really, you aren't going to use the vast majority of the stuff they teach you.

The only difference with PTs and PTAs is the licensing; PTs are licensed to do evals, PTAs aren't. Other than that they do the same thing in the real world but PTAs start working sooner and have a much lower debt to income ratio.

Don't get caught up in a PT degree being a "doctorate". That means absolutely nothing in the real world other than more debt, potential animosity from other, true, doctoring professions, and possibly more law suits for us since the general public might think we make more now as "doctors". PT might have been a great field in the past, but right now with how bad the debt to income ratio is, I would have to advise against pursuing a DPT.

As i was advised very recently, you could become a PA and work in orthopedics if the medical field is the only place you see yourself working. You'd be out 1 year earlier than PT students, loans will be very close to the same, and you'd make absolutely way more than PTs.

But if PT is the only thing you see yourself doing, go to the cheapest school you possibly can, work through PT school to take on less loans, and hope the APTA actually lobbies for better reimbursement.
Yea, I’m at a stand still. I’ll figure it out. Do DPT’s (or you yourself) experience animosity from other professionals in the medical field? Also, if you don’t mind me asking. What was you daily schedule like while in DPT school? How intense, is it? I have a friend who told me he just goes to class and just studies. He feels like there’s not enough time in the day... even to cook a home cooked meal. Lol.
 
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dptnaynay

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I'm finishing up my second year and I would have to agree that it should still be a Master's. There are 2-3 classes that I take every semester that are just completely useless filler classes. If they took those extra unskilled classes away, they could easily make PT school a 2-year program. I feel like I learned what I needed from labs, rotations, and volunteering at the student clinic we have. Everything else, I have pretty much forgotten.
 
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This is similar to what has happened to PharmD's. The doctorate isn't really required to practice competently. And it has only increased tuition, debt, time in training; while the income has not risen commensurately. Those who stand to financially gain by flooding the job market with new grads when the job market is already dismal really have no incentive to pump the breaks. Frankly, it's disgusting.
 
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ya1

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I was wondering what classes were added to physical therapy programs to make them a “Doctorate” program? I’ve heard from many students that they feel as if schools make the content so much harder than it needs to be, and that they feel that it should require a doctorate to do the things PT’s do? I was just wondering everyone’s honest no bias thoughts
Doesn't make it harder, just adds an extra semester. Additional classes include imaging, pharmacology, 2nd class of pediatrics, and "research" paper (which is just systematic review of literature).
 
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ya1

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I was wondering what classes were added to physical therapy programs to make them a “Doctorate” program? I’ve heard from many students that they feel as if schools make the content so much harder than it needs to be, and that they feel that it should require a doctorate to do the things PT’s do? I was just wondering everyone’s honest no bias thoughts
Doesn't make it harder, just adds an extra semester. Additional classes include imaging, pharmacology, 2nd class of pediatrics, and "research" paper (which is just systematic review of literature).
 

truthseeker

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Not sure what classes were added to make it a "doctorate", but as a DPT myself, this career does not require a "doctorate". At best, it should be a bachelors, but really it could be an associate's degree with no issues. As a PT you are basically a technician. The "doctorate" is a whole load of BS and just screws us over in many ways:

A) costs more
B) we do not get paid more because of it
C) general public now thinks we are "doctors", think we make "doctor" money, potential for more law suits coming our way.

Maybe part of the reason why it is a doctorate is the move for more direct access, and I think giving PTs direct access is a HUGE mistake. We are in no way, shape, or form trained nor compensated to be primary care practitioners. To think PTs can screen patients for appropriateness without consulting with a physician is arrogant and down right unethical.

This is from someone who was very much pro PT residency, fellowship, and direct access all through PT school, but after getting into the field, I have completely changed my views on this.
I 100% disagree with your assertion that PTs are technicians. The doctorate is to teach you/us how to think, not how to teach someone a quad set or how to do ultrasound. I agree that the cost is ridiculous but if you consider yourself a technician, you are not being a physical therapist, you are doing physical therapy. There is a massive difference between the two.
 
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Not sure what classes were added to make it a "doctorate", but as a DPT myself, this career does not require a "doctorate". At best, it should be a bachelors, but really it could be an associate's degree with no issues. As a PT you are basically a technician. The "doctorate" is a whole load of BS and just screws us over in many ways:

A) costs more
B) we do not get paid more because of it
C) general public now thinks we are "doctors", think we make "doctor" money, potential for more law suits coming our way.

Maybe part of the reason why it is a doctorate is the move for more direct access, and I think giving PTs direct access is a HUGE mistake. We are in no way, shape, or form trained nor compensated to be primary care practitioners. To think PTs can screen patients for appropriateness without consulting with a physician is arrogant and down right unethical.

This is from someone who was very much pro PT residency, fellowship, and direct access all through PT school, but after getting into the field, I have completely changed my views on this.
I'm fairly certain that the profession didn't have to go to a doctorate level degree, but I must say that I have worked without therapists who are practicing at the doctorate level. We definitely cannot do what "doctors" do, but if you know what you're doing and you act in a responsible and profession manner, your work doesn't have to feel like you're being treated like a technician. I certainly don't feel that way. I'm a neurologic PT; I evaluate and treat people with so many neurologic injuries and the patients I treat take my word seriously. Not only that, but I've been asked frequently about my doctorate and my board certification. And people take those seriously, including the dozen or so physicians I treat. So I'm not sure where your frustration comes from. But I'm sure it's legitimate and we should as a profession work to improve our professional satisfaction. I would hate for you or anyone else to be so dissatisfied with our work.
 
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Yea, I’m at a stand still. I’ll figure it out. Do DPT’s (or you yourself) experience animosity from other professionals in the medical field? Also, if you don’t mind me asking. What was you daily schedule like while in DPT school? How intense, is it? I have a friend who told me he just goes to class and just studies. He feels like there’s not enough time in the day... even to cook a home cooked meal. Lol.
I have not experienced PTs getting animosity from other professions. It's been the exact opposite for me. Especially when you become specialized and develop relationships with other health care workers who are specialized. PT school is hard. But they have to expose you to everything you might experience in the real world. I don't practice CVP rehab, for example, but I need to learn it just in case I want to specialize later.
 
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I 100% disagree with your assertion that PTs are technicians. The doctorate is to teach you/us how to think, not how to teach someone a quad set or how to do ultrasound. I agree that the cost is ridiculous but if you consider yourself a technician, you are not being a physical therapist, you are doing physical therapy. There is a massive difference between the two.
I hear what you're saying. I've met PTs who practice at technician level and those who practice as the professional level. The issue is that it doesn't really matter. They'll both get paid the same. You can be as great as you want as a PT and super-specialize and have the best outcomes and it won't affect your professional value much on a practical level. But I think we can change that.
 
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elyeti

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Yea, I’m at a stand still. I’ll figure it out. Do DPT’s (or you yourself) experience animosity from other professionals in the medical field? Also, if you don’t mind me asking. What was you daily schedule like while in DPT school? How intense, is it? I have a friend who told me he just goes to class and just studies. He feels like there’s not enough time in the day... even to cook a home cooked meal. Lol.
I would have to say no, i have not experienced any animosity from any other medical professionals be it physicians, nurses, OT, SLP, pharmacists, you name it. Does it happen? Maybe? I can't really say. You hear or read about it online, but personally I have not. If anything, physicians and nurses appreciate our input, in regards to patient functional status, and respect our analysis. Both inpatient and outpatient scenarios, the hospital i work for appreciates and values PT input when necessary and within the context of patient functional mobility/status.

In regards to your other question, I feel you can easily have a life outside of PT school. Second year for us was very tough because we took all our core curriculum that year, needless to say we were studying most of the time and we had class literally 5 days a week from 7:30 am -6 pm. But you find time. If you're good with planning and prioritizing, you will make time. Especially if you pay attention in class. I certainly did not feel like i studied ALL the time during the entirety of PT school, however.

I 100% disagree with your assertion that PTs are technicians. The doctorate is to teach you/us how to think, not how to teach someone a quad set or how to do ultrasound. I agree that the cost is ridiculous but if you consider yourself a technician, you are not being a physical therapist, you are doing physical therapy. There is a massive difference between the two.

Technician was definitely a stretch and i apologize for that. Although, there are those out there who just go through the motions so... But that's a different topic.

You are correct, the doctorate is supposed to improve our clinical reasoning, but having completed PT school and a residency, i feel PT school doesn't properly prepare the student PT in a way where their clinical reasoning is particularly strong. I feel the programs bring us up as technicians or at the very least pass the NPTE. I went through an orthopedic residency and that definitely improved my clinical reasoning, subjective examination, objective examination, etc. All that being said, i think what we do as clinicians does not require a doctorate. I think the way PT school is taught now, a bachelors/masters would suffice, save costs, time etc. Residency and fellowship programs could be taken on by the individual to improve their clinical reasoning. Now, I don't care if it is a doctorate or not, but if it would save on costs and time, then i think a masters is what it should have been. If making it a doctorate would have kept costs the same/bumped up salary, then sure keep that way as well. I also think it being a doctorate attracts people who want to be "doctors" and see this as an easier way than other doctoring professions. I don't call myself a doctor, i don't have my patients do it either and i will actually just ask them to call me by first name if they do address me as "Dr. PT."

I'm fairly certain that the profession didn't have to go to a doctorate level degree, but I must say that I have worked without therapists who are practicing at the doctorate level. We definitely cannot do what "doctors" do, but if you know what you're doing and you act in a responsible and profession manner, your work doesn't have to feel like you're being treated like a technician. I certainly don't feel that way. I'm a neurologic PT; I evaluate and treat people with so many neurologic injuries and the patients I treat take my word seriously. Not only that, but I've been asked frequently about my doctorate and my board certification. And people take those seriously, including the dozen or so physicians I treat. So I'm not sure where your frustration comes from. But I'm sure it's legitimate and we should as a profession work to improve our professional satisfaction. I would hate for you or anyone else to be so dissatisfied with our work.

Correct, and the term "doctor" is not synonymous with "physician". I guess my frustrations come from people earning the DPT and thinking now that they're "doctors" they know all and it is this way and always shall be this way. There are tons of PTs who practice without the doctorate who would run circles around any new grad DPT. Experience trumps all (or most), but i guess it's the arrogance of some people. I say this as a recent graduate who, if nothing else, at least knows that there is so much we don't know and managing some of these MSK conditions can be quote complicated as there is a lot out of our hands. I'm also frustrated, very much so actually, with how much it costs to become a PT and how low the reimbursement rates are. We also spend so much time with our patients yet only get reimbursed based on units sold rather quality of the work we put out. It's a lot i guess. Maybe some of us share the same frustrations.

Here's the thing, I absolutely love what I do as a PT. I do both inpatient and outpatient and love it, but i guess for reasons mentioned above i have my gripes.

As it stands, i really can't recommend PT school unless the person really doesn't see any other way for them to work and be happy. You will most likely have to work more than you want, and be extremely frugal as you won't earn much.

That being said i really do enjoy my job, but the way things are right now makes it impossible for to tell someone else to go down this route.
 
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truthseeker

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I do agree that clinically, it didn't need to become a doctorate. Politically, it probably did. The APTA saw that we were losing the marketing battle of the Dr.s of chiropractic and that by itself is important since they are our primary competition in the marketplace. Also, being trained at the doctorate level gives the government lobbyists some ammo when they argue for better pay, more inclusion on state level boards, more autonomy etc . . .
 
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wiseOldPT

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I don't think the type of degree really matters here. It's really just a term. But if you feel you are practicing as a technician, that is on you, not the profession. And if you were only trained that way, that is on the school. Many schools should train you to think. When I have taught in PT schools I've seen how hard this is for students- they want an algorithm of "do this, then this" and struggle with the "it depends" nature. It is a worthy question to ask of schools- do they give cookie cutter approaches or encourage critical thinking. You can work as a PT at a technician level and sadly many do. But what you should be trained to do far exceeds that and I encourage everyone to strive to practice at the top of the field.
 
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I do agree that clinically, it didn't need to become a doctorate. Politically, it probably did. The APTA saw that we were losing the marketing battle of the Dr.s of chiropractic and that by itself is important since they are our primary competition in the marketplace. Also, being trained at the doctorate level gives the government lobbyists some ammo when they argue for better pay, more inclusion on state level boards, more autonomy etc . . .
So how long until the argument of higher pay start to kick in?
 
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IMO there's a lot that could be cut out of PT school to save the students time and money. When I started I was studying all the damn time too, but really, you aren't going to use the vast majority of the stuff they teach you.

The only difference with PTs and PTAs is the licensing; PTs are licensed to do evals, PTAs aren't. Other than that they do the same thing in the real world but PTAs start working sooner and have a much lower debt to income ratio.

Don't get caught up in a PT degree being a "doctorate". That means absolutely nothing in the real world other than more debt, potential animosity from other, true, doctoring professions, and possibly more law suits for us since the general public might think we make more now as "doctors". PT might have been a great field in the past, but right now with how bad the debt to income ratio is, I would have to advise against pursuing a DPT.

As i was advised very recently, you could become a PA and work in orthopedics if the medical field is the only place you see yourself working. You'd be out 1 year earlier than PT students, loans will be very close to the same, and you'd make absolutely way more than PTs.

But if PT is the only thing you see yourself doing, go to the cheapest school you possibly can, work through PT school to take on less loans, and hope the APTA actually lobbies for better reimbursement.
It’s something I def feel like I can see myself doing. It’s just that I’m 28 now and feel old and am a little lost. PTA is only 2 yrs. I have my undergrad in Bio already and was accepted to a dpt school
 
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I appreciate all of your professional input. I was curious what the age range for your cohorts were? I would be 28/29 when I start—I feel so old not having my career yet.
 

800shoes

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I appreciate all of your professional input. I was curious what the age range for your cohorts were? I would be 28/29 when I start—I feel so old not having my career yet.
Lots of 22 year-olds, maybe 30 of the 50 person class. Maybe 20 were 1-2 years out. Oldest was 30, rest were 25-29 year-olds.
 
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elyeti

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I appreciate all of your professional input. I was curious what the age range for your cohorts were? I would be 28/29 when I start—I feel so old not having my career yet.

Vast majority in my cohort were 22-25
A few in their late 30s
I was 27 when I started PT school
 

Skyris

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Should be a bachelors. The content of PT programs that actually pertains to becoming an effective PT could be accomplished in the upper division of a bachelors program, instead of the useless throwaway bachelors most of us get as prereqs for PT school. Should be more like a BSN. So much of our education is just bloat.

This is not just confined to PT though and is symptomatic of larger issues in education and society in general.
 
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topher031888

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This is such a loaded question and opinions vary greatly (obviously). I personally think we should drop labels all together and streamline the whole educational process. Take pre-requisites and then earn a certificate certifying you to work. This should be done with all professional degrees, the labels just confuse the general public. Heck, the general public doesn't know the difference between a MD, DO, PhD, DPT, DC, etc.

In regards to animosity from other professions because we have doctorates, almost no one cares. I do say almost because I have met some orthopedic surgeons that are annoyed by other professions being "doctors" in their respective fields, but those guys are usually jerks to everyone. Most orthos I know don't really care one way or the other. Their only complaint is the same most of us have, we don't make a salary that justifies the training or money spent. The idea that we will be more targeted in lawsuits is not accurate, if anything we are more exposed to lawsuits due to direct access and are now more responsible for appropriate screening for underlying pathology and not doing our due diligence (I certainly do make a lot less than my patients think). I see a lot of direct access and it is one of the big reasons why I might feel like less of my education was wasted. Now that being said, I know a lot of other PTs who almost never see direct access so from their perspective it is a waste.

I completely disagree that we could get similar training if it was a associates or even bachelors, at least the current way that college is structured. I think if we streamlined it we could be done in 5 years. We might not use all of our education depending on what setting we end up working in, and I get that a therapist who is completely set on outpatient might not think that some of the pediatric or neuro classes are worth the time. I would disagree with them, and that is coming form someone who really doesn't want to work in inpatient rehab and did not like it much when I did.
 
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truthseeker

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I felt comfortable treating direct access patients when I graduated PT school with my masters, but I was an athletic trainer before that so was essentially evaluating people for 2-3 years before they saw a physician anyway. I really think the DPT was marketing and politics
 
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I felt comfortable treating direct access patients when I graduated PT school with my masters, but I was an athletic trainer before that so was essentially evaluating people for 2-3 years before they saw a physician anyway. I really think the DPT was marketing and politics
What are the politics behind it, though? Also, now that it’s a doctorate—do you think it’s still worth the time/investment ?
 

truthseeker

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What are the politics behind it, though? Also, now that it’s a doctorate—do you think it’s still worth the time/investment ?
when our state board goes into the legislature to lobby for protecting our practice act, or lobbies to add real direct access, and lobby against the chiros from trying to block us from doing things like joint mobilization, dry needling, manips, they use that we are trained at the doctoral level as evidence why we should be able to do "X"
 
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Smash Atoms

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^Truthseeker hit the nail on the head. Direct access and ability to lobby for continued/expanded treatment rights. In the non-military world its always a bs turf war between professions (This is not exclusive to us however, I have seen a few fires over the idea of a PA becoming a doctoral level for direct access, and anger from MDs over "mid level practitioners" encroaching on their turf).
I think that as of today, no, a Doctorate isn't quite required... But if eventual goal is to expand the profession to the point military has of direct access it is likely a wise step given the ability to order imaging, aspirate joints, prescribe certain meds, etc...

If you can get out for a reasonable debt load, go for it. Always remember the grass is always greener. PA friends told me their woes of the PA profession (and its probably evident if you go browse their forums), a few MD friends all warned me to not go in to medicine, so on and so forth... Every profession has politics. Every profession has issues. Every profession has people who are loudly unhappy with their decision, and those who love what they do. Take things you read online with a grain of salt, talk to human beings - in person - observe, make some careful considerations, and do what is best for you.
 
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Smash Atoms

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And "is it worth it"?
I am 37 and just graduated. Left a VERY lucrative corporate gig for PT school. Haven't regretted it for a second.
... But as you will find on here, there are some PTs who have been around for a while who are more than a little jaded with the profession. That was me in my last profession, but instead of lurking online and selling my woes to new comers, I made the difficult and risky choice to make a change in my life. (Not a dig on anyone posting on this thread, but my goodness there are some unhappy folks on facebook and SDN)

I would always urge anyone unhappy in their career to re-assess and reinvent.
 
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