To PT or not PT?

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To PT or PhD?

  • PhD

    Votes: 4 50.0%
  • DPT

    Votes: 4 50.0%

  • Total voters
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5+ Year Member
Sep 17, 2016
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To be or not to be?

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Take the free PhD continue to work during your PhD. Then get your DPT if you want to and you should be able to pay cash for it at an in-state school. With a PhD and DPT you can practice, do research or end up teaching at a PT school. 22 is young enough to do both IMO, but you shouldn't give up on dreams just because you failed once. If that's the case you didn't really want to be a PT to begin with.
To be or not to be?

Hi, all!
It's been a couple of years, but I did it. I got into physical therapy school. And... I also royally screwed up the first semester. Let me put it to you this way: My life was a real mess over the summer. I graduated with my hard-earned Master's degree at the end of May, moved 1,000 miles away, got a new job, and I was sitting in a classroom of my new PT program by the beginning of the first week of June. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind. Quite frankly, I was burnt out.

Of course, like most healthcare professional students, I was hit by a pretty tough class in the first semester: the dreaded Gross Anatomy. It was a lot. It was overwhelming. And I got to be tortured by it for 9 hours a day Monday-Friday, worked from the minute I got home to the minute I fell asleep to keep a roof over my head, and woke up to do it all again the next day. The stress caught up to me pretty quickly. I came home the first day crying and saying, "I don't want to be here." I was sick every single day, probably as a result of the lack of sleep and stress. I had everything I ever wanted, and suddenly, I was too tired to know why I even wanted it anymore.

I started to fail every Anatomy exam. While I excelled in all of my other classes, the worse I did in Anatomy, the worse I felt. I told my professors early on that I wasn't sure if I was going to make it; I was too burnt out. But, I didn't know how to quit, so I kept trying. No one else in my class had a job, and it was hard to keep up. Unfortunately, I had already spent an entire semester's worth of my salary to pay for the classes when financial aid failed to kick in (an issue on the university's part), so I couldn't quit. Every day, I looked around and saw people who wanted to be there so much more than I did.

Needless to say, I ended up failing the class. I just couldn't keep up. It was probably the most devastating and relieving feeling in the world. The worst part was saying goodbye to my classmates. "If this was the only thing you had to focus on, you'd have made it," everyone kept saying.

Life happens, I know. I have a chance to go back and try again this summer. But, I'm not sure if I should. So, here's my question: Do I, or don't I?

Aside from failing the class, the PT program I was in just wasn't everything I thought it would be. It kinda killed my motivation, if I'm to be honest. After I was dismissed for the rest of the year, I got a really great job at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country. Good thing I had a Master's degree to fall back on. I get to dress up and go to an office to coordinate clinical research for the NIH every day. I'm still making a difference, even if it's not as hands-on as I want it to be. Through my employer, I've also been offered a full-scholarship + stipend to get my PhD in Epidemiology. I no longer have to worry about how I'm going to pay for groceries, yay!

At the same time, I can't forget what I'm leaving behind. This has been my dream my entire life, and I don't want to give it up. I love PT, I really do. But, what should I do? PT school is so expensive. On paper, it seems like the PhD is the better option. It's free, and I don't have to keep looking over my shoulder to see my student loans creeping up on me. But, at the same time, I don't know what a PhD in Epidemiology is worth. Does it carry the same weight as a DPT and a PT license on the job market?

I'm 22 years old. I have a lot of life to live and a lot of dreams to fulfill. But, let's face it. Life is really expensive. I live in an expensive city, and there's really no way around it. So, what should I do? Keep on trekking towards the DPT (and over $70,000 in debt) and hope that it will pay off in the end? Or take the free PhD?
I'm curious. what is your master program that landed you an awesome job at NIH. Feel free to pm me if you like.
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I think it would be good for you to get back your normal "mental state" first: de-stress and start enjoying the life again. It sounds like you will be able to do that by taking the job offer you are getting and forgetting about PT school for now. (PT schools will not go anywhere and you will always be able to go to another school if your current one does not want to wait for you longer than 1 year.) After you gain your sanity back and get some financial stability, you can think about PT school again. Since you are ONLY 22! it does not matter if it takes you 1 year or 5 years, or even 10 years to get back to normal and be ready to reconsider going to PT school. Also, by that time you will have a better idea about epidemiology and your alternative career opportunities that you are just about to start in the hospital. There are also part-time and online PT programs that you may want to consider if you decide to go back to PT school. They have a lower course load and it will be easier to manage it and your work. GOOD LUCK TO YOU! At your very young age you already achieved MUCH more than I have after graduating from PT school:). I would not even consider you failing anatomy to be a failure; you just reached your physical limits - that's all. Look how much you have achieved in your early 20s!!!
Thanks for the advice. I didn't even think about that. If I were to go that route, I'm sure I'd probably have to withdraw of the PT program I'm in, then re-apply after I finished the PhD. The dean of my program was very understanding about my struggles over the summer, but I'm not sure if they would welcome me back again if I withdrew. I hope they would.

Getting into a PT school should not be an issue when applying with a phD to be honest if the school doesn't let you there would be plenty that would since obtaining a phD already shows you have the ability to complete doctorate level course work.
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