switching to pt, pt vs pharmacy?

Discussion in 'Physical Therapy' started by jk0221, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. jk0221

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    I'm a junior undergrad majoring in biology, I recently decided to switch my career plans from pharmacy to physical therapy. I was having a really hard time with organic chemistry and decided that my interest in chemistry was really lacking, making the road to becoming a pharmacist really difficult. On the other hand, I've always enjoyed anatomy and physiology and thought that for this reason maybe physical therapy would better suit my interests?
    My questions are...
    -Is physical therapy rewarding, enjoyable, or interesting?
    -Is physical therapy physically demanding? (I have heard from a few people that I should just stick with pharmacy because physical therapy will take a toll on your body)
    -Can I live comfortably on a physical therapist's salary/Is the pay worth the amount of money that you will spend getting your DPT? (I know that pharmacists make more than pts but would my lifestyle be drastically different if I was to only make $67,000 as a pt per year vs. $100,000 for a pharmacist)
    -Also if anyone has experience in both pharmacy and pt I would love to hear your opinions on the two...I have worked as a pharmacy tech throughout college so I feel like I have a pretty good impression of what pharmacy is all about...but would like to know what someone who has done both thinks.
     
  2. truthseeker

    truthseeker Senior Member
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    1) Yes, it is all three. Every day is different, every patient is different, I learn something (often more than one) every day. I get to see my patients improve and meet their goals to resume their function.

    2) the amount of money you have to spend depends upon the school. On another thread it says that USC is $44k per year. that is ridiculous. You can find schools with much lower tuition and get nearly the same education. The amount of money you earn also depends upon the setting that you work in and the part of the country you work in.
    No night hours, no weekends, no call, maybe worth a grand or two.

    3) the best way to find out what it is like to be a PT is to shadow in several places. Outpatient ortho, inpatient neuro, pediatrics, school, long term rehab and see what you like or if you like any at all.

    I have been a PT for 17 years and have never dreaded going to work. I love my job. don't let money determine what you do when you grow up. You have to love your job. if you do, the money will take care of itself.
     
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  3. jk0221

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    thanks you! i think really think pt is going to be a better fit, but hearing that you've enjoyed your job for all of these years makes me feel better about it.
     
  4. Elbrus

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    Like truthseeker, I too find my job rewarding, enjoyable, & interesting. As a career, I find myself easily willing to read and learn more every day so I can help the patients I see, and play the best A-game I can.

    PT can be physically demanding, but given many different areas of specialization, generally people find what fits what they can handle.
    From my perspective, it’s other healthcare workers seem to have more problems with their bodies because of a lack of awareness and management knowledge. I can say this because we treat everyone else.

    The average salary for my geographic area is 70-80K with 3-4 years of experience. Comfort is of course subjective. Personally, I am happy at home and at work, that is definitely worth more than a dollar amount. Sure, I wouldn't mind making more, but I don't need more $$ to keep me doing the same job. I changed careers and entered PT as a second career. Having hated what I did for 40+ hours/week for 8 years in my previous line of work, I certainly needed and spent a lot more money to keep me going.

    If given the choice do things over again, I wouldn't change my current career to anything else in healthcare. I'm very content, and I look forward to the future.

    I too advise shadowing PTs in various settings to understand the profession.
     
  5. Readybetty

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    i have a similar case. I Thought pharmacy was the career for me but with my chemistry being the way it is i have really been looking into OT or PT But I am leaning more towards OT. I am excited about it because I feel like either pt or ot would be more rewarding then Pharmacy ( just not in the bank account area). :laugh:
     
  6. OTwonnabe

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    Well, I am the opposite as well. I have been thinking about OT but after shadowing and researching the tuition cost, I am leaning more towards PT. Most OTs don't seem to enjoy their job. Cost for tuition for OT is almost similar to PT about $80,000 at schools closest to me (can't relocate due to personal reasons). Yet PTs make about $10,000 more per year.

    I curently make close to the starting pay of OT graduates, so I am wondering why in the world I would add $800 per month in student loan payments and end up being poorer than I am.

    I am considering PT but I will do more research and calculations to make sure it is worth it financially. I have concluded that OT is not worth if financially for me. But your situation may be different.

    I just visited one OT school today. This is the infor. I got:
    Cost of two year program 75k-80k.
    Average student is able to work only 16 hours a week.
    Average starting salaries in St. Louis, MO--Hospitals $44,000, Long-term care $48,000 ,which everyone hates because you become more or less of a glorified CNA---wiping butts all day, community setting $30,000, school districts $40,000.

    Those salaries are pretty dissapointing.
    Average monthly loan payment: $850 per month for 10 years, plus two years of tremendous stress.
    This is prety much what I am making right now with no student loans. I guess I would end up poorer as an OT. I was going for it simply for the diversity in employment opportunities and money as well.
    Relocating is not an option due to family obligations.
    I guess I will stick with what I got or go back to the drawing board for PT. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
     
  7. SuperKirby

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    nut shell: if you're good at chem, do Pharm. If you're good at physio and anat but CAN'T do Chem, do PT.

    basically, if u can do O-chem, you're gonna make some awesome money as a PharmD, OD, DDS, MD, etc...

    sadly, PT's are for those who can't do the chem, but at the same time, PT is the BEST non o-chem profession EVER.
     
  8. kcgregor

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    Or those who can do Chem but don't like it.
     
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  9. fallbackplan

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    Don't lump an entire group of people together due to your own inadequacies...Besides you'll be surprised how much chemistry you end up using (albeit indirectly--and you may not recognize it from the upper level chem courses having not had them) during the course of your studies.
     
  10. SuperKirby

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    you're correct. im the only one out of my friends that aren't doing Pharm, md, dds...etc...=(
    sometimes i just wanna speak my mind, although i know i shouldn't. Thats what forums are for right? =)

    just saying MOST, not all, would go for the money if they could.
     
  11. soccer31

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    first, I agree with the previous replies....I got straight A's in all my chem courses, so I could be doing something else, but I simply dont wanna it... Second, maybe you need new friends....
     
  12. truthseeker

    truthseeker Senior Member
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    Wow, that sort of seems like SuperKirby has a wrong impression. FYI, some PTs CHOOSE to go to PT school because they LIKE IT BETTER. PT school GPAs are very similar and in many cases superior to the entry GPAs to other healthcare professional schools. For me it was a choice not a fallback position because I couldn't do chemistry or physics or whatever.

    Kirby thinks that there is a class system in healthcare. There are plenty of pharmacists and PTs and nurses who have higher IQs than some MDs and DOs. (this is not to disparage MD and DOs) but don't pidgeonhole PTs into a group of people who are just doing the best they can with what little they have which is what it sounded like you were implying.
     
  13. SuperKirby

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    Well the truth is, i needed more people like you to remind us what PT's are all about. now days, even with SDN, all i hear is people complain about how lil money PT's make. Makes me think why don't they just do something else? are we stuck with doing PT because its the best non O-chem degree?

    I just need more encouragement from PT's. even the PT i work with tells me to try pharmacy. He says the money is worth it, and he's working 60 hours a week as a PT just to make the same as a 40 hour a week PharmD. I just wish I didn't hear these things, and more of, "PT is the BEST degree ever!" just like what i heard before i got into the field. SDN, on the other hand is totally dragging me down =(

    on SDN, all i read is...dont spend 7 years, at least 75K, to start out at 60K a year. Not at all encouraging. especially when my nail tech cousin makes 65K a year, BLAH.
     
  14. truthseeker

    truthseeker Senior Member
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    Look at rehabedge and you will get a different perspective
     
  15. SuperKirby

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    thanks truthseeker
     
  16. marathoner04

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    First off, PT isn't completely a non-orgo degree; having orgo knowledge (and passing all my chem courses with a's) makes a+p that much more amazing, and a+p is the academic basis for PT.

    Secondly, in my case, I didn't switch from pre-med to PT because of my grades; I love the ability to work and build a relationship with patients on a long-term basis, and I love watching them improve through their struggles and come out a better person. Every PT that I have volunteered or worked with talk about how satisfied and happy they are with their lives, opposed to a lot of physicians (not to downplay docs because I know many great ones as well) who aren't happy and went into medicine soley because of family pressures and money. Not that money isn't great, but if you're that concerned with money, maybe PT isn't the best option.

    As for encouragement, I tend not to listen to discouragement because honestly, what is that going to get you in life? If you work hard in school, you'll get good grades; if you work hard to be a great PT, there is absolutely no reason it shouldn't pay off both mentally and financially at the end.
     
  17. CLGUY

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    This thread got to me a little. For those of you who are thinking pursuing a career in PT, but are thrown off by the average salary... GO TO ANOTHER PROFESSION:mad:. Personally, I hope to work with PTs who truly enjoy what they do and not people who just want a pay check. I'm sorry, but I want to be a PT because I know it is something I'll love to do for the rest of my working life, not because of the pay.

    Oh, and I did great in O-chem. According to some, I guess I'm underachieving by trying to become a PT. Oh well...
     
  18. Akiramay

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    I totally agree with you. I hate seeing so many threads about the PT salary. If they don't want to make that amount of money, they shouldn't do PT. But yah, personally, the money isn't even an issue for me. I'm pursuing the career I want, and that will be more fulfilling than any paycheck.
     
  19. soccer31

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    Agree completely. Also, since when isnt 60 or 70K a very good paying job? You combine that with a spouse income of lets say 50K and you are passed the so dreamed 6 digits! Maybe I am coming from a different background perspective, but for me that is a great amount of money.
     
  20. fallbackplan

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    Who cares what other people think? To hell with them.
     
  21. Cronos

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    Just because people are insecure about the salary does not mean they will not enjoy what they do. Everyone is in different positions and has different concerns. You have no idea what type of pressures someone could be facing that you did not have to, or if you faced similiar pressures, you should be glad you handled them with more confidence because anxiety doesn't make anything easier. Furthermore, the PT social support system is TERRIBLE. Not only do many PT's constantly complain about the profession but you also see many switching to other professions, particularly on this board. When people ask me what I'm considering as a profession, people are literally looking for words when they hear PT is one of the professions I am considering. Granted, many of them are students that are looking to go to medical school, and they usually ask while I'm helping them with Chemistry. PT's and PT hopefuls should look to lend a helping hand with those that are having difficulty deciding, support is rare for many of us at the moment and social support is key to the decisions people make.

    I have to say thanks to Truthseeker and Marathoner as well, they are two of the more positive influences on this board. Also thanks for pointing out rehabedge, that looks like a very helpful forum.
     
  22. CLGUY

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    Cronos,
    I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.
    I understand your view, but I still believe that pay shouldn't be the deciding factor on a future career. Especially when the pay for the career in question is not an insignificant sum by any means. I will be more than happy to be making around 65k. But, I did not choose to pursue PT based on a projected salary. I didn't even research salaries until I was well into completing my pre-requisites. I believe that being happy with what you do for a living is much more rewarding than a bigger pay check.
    Also, I didn't comment on anything regarding a social support system. I assume your comments on that were alluding to my negative remarks. But I still hold firm to what I said. I feel no urge to support someone in an effort to become a PT if their interest in the field hinges on a payscale. On the other hand, I will lend my support, positively and enthusiastically, to anyone who has a genuine interest in the field.
    As for PTs pursuing other careers or complaining about their jobs, I can't really give good response. In my relatively short time volunteering in the field, I have been lucky to observe under three PTs who loved their jobs and the people they worked with, both patients and co-workers.

    Please don't feel that I am attacking you personally. These are just my honest opinions(obvious by the incessantly repetitive use of the word "I") in response to yours
     
  23. Cronos

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    I'm sorry, it wasn't all regarded towards you. I was more trying to defend Superkirby's position. Should have spaced it out more appropriately.

    I do agree with you that salary shouldn't be THE deciding factor, but it is definitely a concern in college when everyone is talking about how much they will be making (most people thinking they'll be pulling in 6 figures) with the addition of parental pressure and in-law pressure and whatever other kind of pressure you could think of. Certainly nothing to be angry over someone being insecure, especially when most of us are young and do not know what it takes to make it in the world. And I agree that the salary certainly isn't insignificant, I strongly believe that it is plenty to live happy and healthy. It's just hard to maintain those beliefs without a good social support system.

    I am somewhat insecure about he salary for several reasons. So I might have ranted a bit before, sorry about that. Did not mean to come off as hostile as I may have been.:oops: But I think overall the salary and job stability is pretty much worth it for many of the benefits that the profession offers, such as time with the patient. Other healthcare professions treat patients like $, while PT treats them like people. That is one aspect I love and why I am continuing to follow through despite the insecurities.
     
  24. CLGUY

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    Cronos,
    No, you didn't really come off as hostile. I enjoy hearing, or in this case reading, other people's views. Its fun to debate over them.
    Sorry I assumed it was all in response to my post, but I was the one quoted.
    It seems that we actually do have similarities on the issue. Whether its a good thing or not, I guess I'm just a little more idealistic.
     
  25. Cyres

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    $60,000-70,000 is very good pay for a bachelor's, its average for a master's, and poor for a doctor's.








    Why? Why shouldn't a clinician have both? Therapists should have a fulfilling career that also yields a compensation commensurate with the effort it takes to become a professional in our field and the value of the treatments rendered.

    A half rhetorical question. The half answer found in my post here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?p=7403748#post7403748

    And if you're among those that continue to say it's because the reimbursement just isn't enough, I'll ask again: Why? Because CMS keeps cuts the fee-schedules, all the other payers follow and the APTA's annual defense against this is to do their best impression of a matador by getting out of the way and yelling, "Ole!". Our governing body has to take a stronger stance. Eventually enough will be enough. And like some physicians who've stopped seeing Medicare patients because of excessive paperwork and the poor reimbursement, I believe you'll eventually see that bittersweet moment in our profession.


    I've digressed from the thread's subject, but when I start to see comments from future PTs like the above I've got to say something.


    To the first poster:

    Is physical therapy rewarding, enjoyable, or interesting? ---- Yes to all.


    Is physical therapy physically demanding? ----- It can be, depends on the setting. You might have to help a 400+ pound patient transfer or walk... or the most strenuous thing you do all day might be writing through the hand cramps from the all the documentation.

    Can I live comfortably on a physical therapist's salary/Is the pay worth the amount of money that you will spend getting your DPT? ----- Yes you can for the first part. For the second... if looking at time/effort /money(cost) vs. pay/lifestyle/.. it's debatable at the present time. If looking at it from a "will this be a gratifying career in terms of helping people" sort of way... absolutely.
     
  26. CLGUY

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    Cyres,
    My whole point was that if someone's interest in PT is subject to how much they will be getting paid, I don't believe that their interest is very strong. If someone really wants to be a PT, the salary wouldn't stop them.
    I'm not saying that it wouldn't be nice to get paid more for doing something that makes you happy or that steps shouldn't be taken to increase the pay. I'm saying that as it stands right now, PTs are getting paid x amount of money and that amount is worth it for someone who is truly interested.
     
  27. soccer31

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    I agree with you. We should be paid more,but at the same time please remember that up until a decade ago or so there were still bachelors degree being offered and today you can still find masters programs. Yes, we changed our curriculum in a very short spam from bachelors to doctorate, but we cannot expect that the salaries and recognition will come at that same rate. It will take time for that, and like you said, that will take a lot of effort.
    I believe that what CLGUY is trying to say is that its is frustrating to see a huge amount of people deviating from our profession because of salary. I know that it frustrates me, but if thats what its going to make them choose between a career in PT or another, then it is their problem. It just seems to me that they are not for PT anyways, so maybe the profession is better of without them...
     
  28. PharmDan2

    PharmDan2 NSU DPT 2012
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    It really surprises me to hear all the complaining about salary in PT...especially when there is SO MANY POSITIVES TO THE CAREER! First, you can work in a million different settings; from working at a VA for wounded marines, to working with kids in a pediatric setting, to traveling, or even working with professional athletes!

    On top of all that, if you really want the coveted 6-figures, you can work in home health care and also travel working 50 hours a week or so. But remember, this is the career you get in to when you want to work with your patients because you look at them like people who need help and not $$$ (dollar signs).

    For those who think people become PTs because they can't become MDs is absolutely ridiculous because the two healthcare careers are SO VASTLY DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER! I didn't want to become an MD because I have absolutely NO interest in taking blood, giving people shots, taking in patients who are coughing up blood, puking, or coughing up phlegm, looking at symptoms of the flu, chicken pox, strept throat, etc.

    My interest for PT was purely because I am really really interested in the human body and finding ways to make it stronger and faster. Some of my interests include body building, personal training, and overall muscular health. When I looked up careers that would allow me to work with athletes, or sports, or anything that had to do with muscles/bones, my eyes brightened up when I saw physical therapy. Being a PT is all about rehabing people who have diminished strength and ability. Being an MD is all about diagnosing and prescribing based on illness. They are completely different careers. Youd have to pay me a million dollars a year to be an MD with all the crap you have to deal with in the career. The same goes with being a pharmacist. Youd have to pay me around $500,000 a year for that...last thing I want to do is sit in a walmart/target/cvs all day handing out boner pills and birth control...
     
  29. Ruhm

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    This topic is 6 years old and I wonder if there is someone still in. I find myself in a similar dilemma and would like to hear your opinion.

    I graduated from economics school but didn't fit in the industry. Through a few voluntary jobs working with the navy in hummanity projects, I felt so rewarded seeing the patients' improvement and loved being around with caring people. I'm good at Maths, Bio and not so bad at Chem. I had decided to apply for PT but I'm worrying about the pricey tuition fees and if my physical condition is enough to handle the patients and . I'm just 5,02ft in height and weigh 99,2Ib . Most of my friends in The State told me to go for pharmacy instead as I still can work in the hospital and surely pay back my study loan after graduation. Can anyone help me to answer:

    - Is my physical condition good enough to work as a PT?

    - Is there any significant difference in length of study and tuition fees between PT and Pharmacy?

    Many thanks for your reply.
     
  30. truthseeker

    truthseeker Senior Member
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    Pretty much not right here. I could do the chem, but didn't want to do medicine or Pharm or OD. the applicants for PT school are Very qualified, trust me.
     
  31. starrsgirl

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    Yes, your size is fine. I'm not much bigger and it's not an issue (and I have smaller classmates who are also doing well). There are tons of fields in PT. Some like don't require any lifting (and those that do require lifting always have ways to get help, use another person, use a device or whatever).

    Pharmacy is 4 years of school (You MUST do a 1-2 year residency after the 4 years of school if you dream of working in a hospital setting versus the corner drug store.). PT school is 3 years (plus maybe a year of residency...still optional and doesn't seem to affect first job placement as much as it may for pharmacists)

    Tuition and fees are generally comparable. State schools are reasonable usually, private schools can be outrageous...but obviously you pay for a full year more of school with pharmacy. You can possibly earn more as a pharmacist right out of school but the job market isn't great. PT job market is good, but salaries are somewhat low starting (in my opinion). Whichever way you go, calculate your total tuition costs and look for ways to save!
     
  32. labbitrush

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    Current 2016 DPT applicant here! I was originally pursuing pharmacy in my undergraduate career. I had my pharmacy technician license and everything, so that I could work at a pharmacy until I got into pharmacy school. I could not find any work while I was in school, but when I got out, I got a job at a local retail pharmacy. After a few months, I knew it was not for me. The quality of the patient-provider interaction is easily overcome by the tasks that the corporation pushes on each technician and pharmacist. Yes, retail is only one part of pharmacy, but it is the majority of the market, which is becoming quite saturated with pharmacists in more metropolitan areas.

    My grades are great, I am good at chemistry and organic chemistry, but the kind of work you get to do as a pharmacist, in my opinion, is not as rewarding as it would be in physical therapy where I get to observe patients improve. If you see a patient in the pharmacy over and over, you know they're probably not getting any better. "Yes, Mr. Pickles, I see your cholesterol/blood pressure/blood glucose level is still high, here let me get your refills for you." Application wise though, if your application is ready for Pharm school, it's probably ready for PT school.
     

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