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Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT one?

 
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Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT one? - October 26, 2005 1:08:00 AM   
eddie269

 

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Joined: October 11, 2005
From: San Francisco
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Hi everyone. I recently decided that I wanted to try out the PT field as a career. I am a health care field type of guy and just came out of pre-pharmacy (basically I didn't get into any schools :( ) I already took 75% of the sci pre-req's during my undergrad and did some interning. However, after browsing around other areas, I discovered PT and I think it offers just as much (if not more) as pharmacy for an exciting career.

ANYWAYS, one of my parent's biggest concern is whether I would like PT as a career. They're scared that I'll go through a 3-4 yr DPT program, get into DEBT, just to find out I do not truly enjoy it and quit.

They think this because I am a personal banker right now (my 1st job out of college with my econ degree) and I THOUGHT I'd make a career out of this. But 6 months into it, I QUICKLY realized it's not for me. It's an unethical, dirty, and sleazy way to make a living.

So with that being said, would going through a one yr full time PTA program give me the REAL WORK experience I need to help me decide whether PT is the career for me? I know for DPT programs, they require you to do X amount of hours working/interning/shadowing in a PT setting anyways, but maybe that won't be enough.

What do you guys think? PTA program a good idea in my case? Or just a waste of money and time? I'm 23, young and energetic, so I am willing to try out new things while I still can.

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Re: Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT ... - October 26, 2005 7:40:00 AM   
jma

 

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Joined: August 25, 2000
From: NY
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Hello,
Going to a PTA program for one year will not give you the "real work" experience that a PT has to go through. For that to happen, you have to be in a PT program and then go for your clinical affiliations, which can start in the latter half of your first year of PT school.

Many, including myself did not take the X amount of hours just to satisfy a pre-requisite for entry into a PT program. I wanted to make sure that I liked what I was observing in the PT setting I volunteered in and that involved a lot of hours. Shadowing a PT in the real setting is the only way you will know if you really want to persue this kind of career or not.

(in reply to eddie269)
Post #: 2
Re: Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT ... - October 26, 2005 8:36:00 AM   
ehanso

 

Posts: 392
Joined: September 15, 2004
From: Minnesota
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I agree with jma. Spending time in a clinic or variety of clinics to observe will give you a better idea of what to expect and help you in your decision. It is a lot of work to get through school but the rewards are wonderful. Use the time to get a better back ground in exercise physiology or anatomy rather than going to a PTA program. Ed

(in reply to eddie269)
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Re: Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT ... - October 26, 2005 5:06:00 PM   
MinnDasota

 

Posts: 34
Joined: July 23, 2005
From: NYC
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I would also have to agree. Spend some time in the clinic with PT's (volunteer, aide work, shadow, etc). It's the only real way to touch the surface of how life is as a PT. As JMA stated, don't worry about the minimum X amount of hours, you really need to expose yourself as much as you can in many settings to see the big picture.

As for schools, most DPT programs are 3 years of studies (not 4). I'm not going to lie to you, debt is a very big possibility depending on where you go. You are still young so take the time to figure out if it really is right for you. GOod luck

(in reply to eddie269)
Post #: 4
Re: Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT ... - October 26, 2005 5:15:00 PM   
MinnDasota

 

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Joined: July 23, 2005
From: NYC
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Also, although similar, PTA's and PT's are 2 different careers encompassing different scopes of the rehab team. Being a PTA is not a stepping stone to becoming a PT (much like being a physicians assistant doesn't necessarily make you closer to becoming a physician). Just in case you were thinking it, going to PTA school doesn't shave off years of going to PT school. Thus, I would recommend choosing either one or the other, but in the case of time and money, not both....if that makes any sense

(in reply to eddie269)
Post #: 5
Re: Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT ... - October 26, 2005 11:27:00 PM   
eddie269

 

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Joined: October 11, 2005
From: San Francisco
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Thanks guys for the responses. I learned that PTA isn't a stepping stone to becoming a PT. So I guess my next logical step is to just shadow/intern/bug the hell out of a PT at a local clinic. That should be fun and exciting though.

Thanks guys. You just saved me a year and a lot of $$$. I just want to make sure PT is 110% my thing before I get into school. That's one thing I learned from my current job: If you go into it as a career, you better know exactly what you're getting into and not just go by the job description on the website =)

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(in reply to eddie269)
Post #: 6
Re: Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT ... - October 28, 2005 6:33:00 AM   
Sean_Collins

 

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Joined: October 21, 2005
From: Massachusetts
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I hate to put a wrench in the premises for Not doing a PTA before a DPT, but as a faculty member in an EP undergrad and a DPT program I have seen several students with a PTA come to the DPT program over the past few years (N = 9 to be exact). Of course its biased, they all report being happy with their decision (they dont know any other way however, so this must be taken with a grain of salt). There are some very practical benefits that they (and I) have noticed. Having had experience - with the PTA clinicals they are excellent at several of the routine psychomotor skills that the DPT students are working on for the first time allowing these PTA to DPT students more time to focus on those more advanced or perhaps I can say cognitive stills. They more clearly understand the scenarios and therefore get more out of the DPT class case studies and problem solving exercises. One of the 3rd DPT students - where they perform 16 weeks of clinicals in 8 week blocks and then spend the rest of the year in classes for "integration" but are only in classes 2 days a week - will be working 20 hours a week as a PTA earning a very very decent salary for her time as a grad student and continuing to use her manual skills.
Just a few thoughts on the benefits -
Sean

_____________________________

Sean M. Collins, PT, ScD, CCS
Associate Professor
Research Coordinator
Department of Physical Therapy
Coordinator, Graduate Program in Disability Outcomes
Adjunct Professor, Department of Work Environment
School of Health &

(in reply to eddie269)
Post #: 7
Re: Should I invest time in a PTA program before a DPT ... - October 28, 2005 6:36:00 AM   
Sean_Collins

 

Posts: 74
Joined: October 21, 2005
From: Massachusetts
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I said: "and therefore get more out of the DPT class case studies and problem solving exercises. One of the 3rd DPT students " - i must admittedly add that I have not actually measured how much any particular student "gets" from these exercises. This is merely conjecture based on my subjective observations in my own clinical course (Cardiopulmonary PT).
Sean

_____________________________

Sean M. Collins, PT, ScD, CCS
Associate Professor
Research Coordinator
Department of Physical Therapy
Coordinator, Graduate Program in Disability Outcomes
Adjunct Professor, Department of Work Environment
School of Health &

(in reply to eddie269)
Post #: 8
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