I'm a recent graduate, 21 years old with a Bachelor's in Zoology and most of the prereqs required for PT or PTA (though either way I have to take some still). I would love some insight in the major differences between the two jobs and programs from you. I have found some discussion of this but it mostly seems to be for people in a different phase of life than i am (older, with families, looking for a career change).
So basically-What are the pros/cons of each position? why did you choose what you did? is there opportunity to work part-time? what do you (as a PT or PTA) do on a regular, day to day basis? what is the best and worst thing about your job? do different personalities do better in the different positions? are you happy with the choice you made?
Joined: March 9, 2008
I'm a PTA. If you already have a bachelor's degree, I would go and get your DPT. Same amount of schooling would be needed for either (2 1/2 or 3 years) being that you already have a 4 year degree. PT's obviously will have more income however, depending on the school- it may cost a lot more than an assistant program. PT's evaluate the patient and determine what treatments will need to be delivered to achieve the patient and therapist's goals PTA's follow the treatment plan and work closely with the PT. Once the patient has achieved whatever goals have been set by the therapist, the patient is discharged by the PT.
There are pros and cons to both positions. It has to be your personal preference. I chose to go through a PTA program because I didn't want to go to school for seven years and was in need of money. I love my job and my insight and judgment is highly respected by other co-workers. I am young and have considered going back to school to pursue becoming a PT. PRO: my company has tuition reimbursement. As a PT or PTA, you can work full time, part time, PRN (as needed). You can work in various settings including, inpatient, outpatient, nursing homes, home health, schools, gyms, etc. I work in a SNF, there are a lot of pros and cons, pros out weigh the cons.
Again its all personal preference. I love working with the elderly, but am in need of using my skill I've learned on patients that present with a more challenging diagnosis such as, TBI, SCI, etc.
If you want to know more, feel free to message me!
hi allisha- thanks so much for your response. after a lot of reading and thoughts i'm pretty settled on the PTA program. my reasons are 1)ability to spend more time working directly with patients-this is extremely important to me because that is one of my main reasons for going into the field in the first place.
2)huge difference in expense
3)shorter program-can start working sooner
4)DPT prerequisites-i'm missing enough prereqs that i'm not even sure i could apply to school this fall (depending on the school of course), making it take even longer and cost more.
5)At this point in my life at least, i'm not so concerned with the amount of money i make as much as the job that i'm doing and i don't want salary to be a big factor in the job i choose (not implying that this is the reason ppl become pt's at all, just that i don't want it to become one for me)
i'm starting to volunteer at a clinic in a few weeks and if i like that as much as i expect, i'll be applying soon!
It really does come down to personal preference and what seems to "fit" you and your life's situations.
PT's make more $$ but have to spend more time in school and pay more for it. PTA's have less schooling but obvisouly enough to treat. In terms of treatments, PT's and PTA's can become as good as they want to be. (I've had PTA's treat better than some PT's I've worked with).
My simple take: PTA's treat. If that's all you care about, that'd be perfect for you then.
PT's treat just as much, but we're the clinical decision makers. My favorite part of my job is taking a complicated pt and trying to figure out the right treatment plan for them. As a PTA, to make any changes in a patient's plan of care, you need to have it OK'd by your PT. (That might depend a bit on the state you're in). Ultimately, a PTA works under the license of a PT, so its always the PT's butt on the line with all decisions. If a PTA decides to make a treatment change and doesn't inform the PT, and something "bad" happens... then both the PTA and PT can get nailed. Most clinics are pretty lax about this rule, but most PT's don't protect their license enough.
Sounds like you're doing some observation for experience. That's the best way to do it. Follow a PTA around for a week and then follow a PT. If you could care less about the clinical decision part, then there's no need to be a PT. That's just a personal preference.
Joined: November 8, 2007
Why did you choose SNF or did it "choose you"? Did you have a variety of choices upon graduating? I'm half way through the didactic part of my PTA program so I'm far from needing to make a choice. I'm just looking for another point of view.