Author Topic: DPT as Second Career  (Read 1514 times)

SteadyDoinIt

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DPT as Second Career
« on: June 06, 2019, 10:04:26 AM »
May be better as a case study, but it's also a topic of broad discussion for me.

Backstory: I have a BBA in Management, about 5 years in the workforce, and am currently a Project Controls Specialist with a midstream engineering company - on a trajectory to be a Scheduler within the next say 36 months (~$90-100k/year). We have no debt save our mortgage ($1300/month), two paid off vehicles with under 100k miles, 6 months emergency fund, 25k brokerage account, plus well-established IRAs and 401ks. Our life expenses can nearly be covered by my wife's employment as a teacher - a highly stable job. We would like to start having kids in the next two summers.

Thoughts: Although there is great opportunity for growth in my org, my team is awesome, and my boss is super approachable and brilliant, I don't find any fulfillment from making another person rich, and I spend half of my time with not much to do, staring blankly at a computer screen. I'm not an extrovert in the whole sense, but I get pleasure through service. In fact, I worked through school as a waiter and bartender. Additionally, one of my greatest hobbies is the mechanics of the body and finding optimization. The idea of DPT school has been simmering for a few years now, but I've never had the gumption to pull the trigger. A little research says it would take about 10 prereqs, GRE, and a measure of luck to get into the school in my area.

I've taken the first step and will be shadowing PTs at two different clinics in the coming month to figure out if this is just a hobby or is a true professional interest, and I'm going to put numbers to paper to see exactly what it would look like to go back to school.

But I have a few questions:
1) the costs/difficulty (both in acceptance and studies) of PT school?
2) income ability?
3) career and growth opportunities?
4) a day in the life?
5) am I foolish to pursue a second career and take debt as a 31 year old with kids in the near future?
6) general advice/anything else I'm missing?

Please help point me in the right direction!

Murse

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2019, 12:28:57 PM »
What is your end goal? Do you want to achieve FI or do you want to find a profession you enjoy more? IMO it sounds like you already have it made and should stick it through.

I have personally battled with similar desires to further my education to advance my career in healthcare. I have decided against further education at this time- reasons being
1) political uncertainty- I am unsure how a Medicare for all system would affect wages going forward.
2) I think my desire to go back to school is because I am uncomfortable being comfortable. Every time I hit a milestone, instead of enjoying the moment I look for new ways to delay gratification- I do not believe that this mindset will change with any level of education. Also if you look around at people who have achieved FI, you will find multiple who went on to seek graduate degrees and never used them.
3) Pursueing further education would have pushed back my FI date by 5-10 years depending on your assumptions. I decided that I should achieve FI first, then go back to school if I still desire to, school will always be there.

How would you feel if you graduated from PT school and were making 80k 4 years from now? How much would you have to take in student loans? What if you end up with a boss you dislike? Is there any other way you could get involved with finding out more of the mechanics of the body? Could you get a personal trainer certification? Join a CrossFit? Take up karate? If it were me I would ride out the job you are happy in and find a way to pursue your passions outside of work instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on another career that you may or may not like.

At the end of the day it doesnít matter what any of us think, it matters what your end goal is. Do you want to hit FI or do you want to be a PT?
« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 12:31:02 PM by Murse »

Brokefuturedoctor

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2019, 07:25:43 PM »
I would keep in mind that there are many ways to serve your community outside of your chosen career. If you feel you are lacking purpose through your career, perhaps there is another avenue in your life that you could be serving or giving to others. That being said, our careers are a big part of our time, so I can understand a desire to switch when you aren't feeling fulfilled.

I have the fortune of knowing some current PTs and PT students, and it is important to know that school can be expensive. You're in a pretty good situation given that your wife works and is able to cover most of your expenses, but coming out of PT school even in your situation I would expect a debt:income ratio of about 1-1.5:1. You could come out a little better if you all are able to cut back. I would also say with kids in the near future, I would be hesitant to switch jobs, but no one says you can't be going to school and have kids. There are certainly folks in my med school class who are in that situation, but they also have help at home.

I hope this helps a little.

use2betrix

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2019, 07:34:49 PM »
There is considerable more money in the right opportunities working project controls/scheduling midstream divisions.. The lowest paid person in my group, who I would barely consider project controls, makes $65/hr (although as a contractor).

Pigeon

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2019, 05:40:59 AM »
You should be able to look up the costs of your local PT schools online by going to the school's website.  There's a list of programs here.
 http://aptaapps.apta.org/ptcas/programlist.aspx  Costs vary.  If there's a public institution nearby with a program, that will probably be cheaper than a private.   It may also be more competitive because it's so much cheaper.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook will provide a general overview of salaries, working conditions, etc.  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm#tab-1 

Shadowing a couple of PTs in different environments is a very good idea. 

Whether the whole thing is a good idea only you can decide.  Personally, I'd rather work longer in a job I enjoy.  Doing this will obviously delay FIRE, but that might be a trade-off that will make you much happier. 

Cowspot28

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2019, 06:58:53 PM »
I am a DPT who graduated in 2012 from a private school.

1) It can be difficult to get into school. I was waitlisted at my state school and chose to go to a private school. School is a full time job. Classes at my school were basically 9-5. I lived with my parents and worked part time and still ended up with a 6 figure loan afterwards.

2) I have never had a problem getting a job and am making decent money.

3) Growth opportunities would include being a clinic manager or going into a non clinical route such as academia or insurance reviewing.

4) I work in a private practice seeing 1 pt/hr. This is not the norm. Iím used to seeing 2 pts/ hr. Each treatment varies but includes hands on work, exercise, etc.

5) If you are really passionate about becoming a PT, it can be very rewarding helping people. As with any job, there are pros and cons. School and clinicals will take a lot of time. Good to shadow to see exactly why itís like as practice settings vary.

6) I would not choose to do it again if I was given the opportunity for a do over mostly due to time and cost. I think there are other jobs out there with less training making decent money.

Feel free to ask other questions.

ArtistGrowingMustache

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2019, 12:05:52 PM »
I am a DPT who graduated in 2012 from a private school.

1) It can be difficult to get into school. I was waitlisted at my state school and chose to go to a private school. School is a full time job. Classes at my school were basically 9-5. I lived with my parents and worked part time and still ended up with a 6 figure loan afterwards.

2) I have never had a problem getting a job and am making decent money.

3) Growth opportunities would include being a clinic manager or going into a non clinical route such as academia or insurance reviewing.

4) I work in a private practice seeing 1 pt/hr. This is not the norm. Iím used to seeing 2 pts/ hr. Each treatment varies but includes hands on work, exercise, etc.

5) If you are really passionate about becoming a PT, it can be very rewarding helping people. As with any job, there are pros and cons. School and clinicals will take a lot of time. Good to shadow to see exactly why itís like as practice settings vary.

6) I would not choose to do it again if I was given the opportunity for a do over mostly due to time and cost. I think there are other jobs out there with less training making decent money.

Feel free to ask other questions.

Not the OP, but I'm also considering this career.  Started a thread in the ask a mustachian forum before I saw this, lol.

What are the other careers you would potentially have chosen?

kanga1622

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2019, 07:48:12 PM »
But I have a few questions:
1) the costs/difficulty (both in acceptance and studies) of PT school?
2) income ability?
3) career and growth opportunities?
4) a day in the life?
5) am I foolish to pursue a second career and take debt as a 31 year old with kids in the near future?
6) general advice/anything else I'm missing?

Please help point me in the right direction!

I can provide some insight based on my work experience.

Acceptance is tough. Many schools have an acceptance rate of 10-20% of applicants. Most schools will give you that information or have it available on their website. Find out their average GPAs of admitted or matriculated students. That will give you a lot of insight on how you might fare against their particular applicant pool. Find out if they give admission preference to applicants with graduate degrees, particular undergraduate majors, undergraduate college/university, residency state, etc.

Be prepared to work your behind off in DPT school. You are likely to be in class 6 hours a day along with group projects, studying, and completing additional assignments. It can absolutely be done with a wife and kids but you will need to find a way to study and carve out time for family. It is quite stressful. Many DPT programs are 3 years and typically require summer classes. You really donít get much time off between semesters in many cases.

You would not be the first non-traditional student or 2nd career person to begin a DPT. Be aware that your financial aid in the first year (or two depending on when the program begins) are based upon your tax returns filed while you were working full time. That can artificially lower the amount of aid available as it is expected you would bring in the same income which is typically not the case with a DPT program.

I would start by interviewing and shadowing DPTs at several different clinics. See inpatient, outpatient, geriatric, pediatric, neuro, orthopedic, etc settings. Ask the PTs if they would do it again with the information they have now. Most probably would but they often have some great insight that will help you make a decision. You should be able to log those hours toward the observation/shadowing requirements for application as well.

Before you sign up for any additional coursework, see if the programs you would apply to could complete a transcript review. That should help solidify what coursework you would need before application. They may be able to provide a list of acceptable coursework to fulfill prerequisite requirements from local schools as well.

Lasombra

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2019, 10:58:59 PM »
Iím doing this (almost done!) Itís a long road, and an absolute ton of work. If you havenít already, you might consider one of the hybrid programs ó I do three weeks online and then fly across the country once a month for 4 very intense days of labs and practicals. This approach let me keep working through the first three-plus years of the program (we stretch it to four total; the last 9 months are full-time clinical rotations). I still have some crazy loans, but all things considered Iím coming out ahead this way versus a local full-time program. Itís possible to have kids during this kind of setup as well. My daughter turns 5 soon, and we have quite a few parents in the cohort, with probably a dozen little ones between everybody.

It is very competitive to get in. Programs will vary, but youíll probably want to shoot for straight As in your prereqs and above 300 on the GRE. Observation in multiple settings is also a major benefit; it can be tough and take a while to get in and observe in acute care, but itís definitely worth it, for the exposure to different aspects of PT if nothing else.

The difficulty level once youíre in is also very high. Nothing in particular is necessarily all that hard on its own, but there is a ton of material. The transition to the DPT involves additional training in imaging, pathology, pharmacology, and differential diagnosis that was not necessarily emphasized as much before. Again, nothing crazy on its own, but thereís just a lot to manage.

The income doesnít really match the cost of entry at this point. Different settings do pay differently, and there are definitely non traditional models to pursue if you want to start your own thing (cash-only practice, online niches, outpatient on wheels, setting up in CrossFit gyms, etc). There are people doing some very exciting things. Thereís also a lot of frustration and burnout. You might check out the salary report stuff at UpDoc media, I think it gets a little more granular than what youíll find through, say, the Department of Labor.

If youíre absolutely sure this is the path for you, I would not say itís a foolish pursuit! Iíd definitely make the same choice againóthereís a lot to be said for getting out from behind the desk. In a worst-case scenario, thereís income-based repayment which you can manipulate to some degree with aggressive retirement savings. Plus it sounds like youíre in a good position to absorb the financial hit.

Good luck, I hope you enjoy shadowing!

goalphish2002

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2019, 05:34:41 PM »
Iím doing this (almost done!) Itís a long road, and an absolute ton of work. If you havenít already, you might consider one of the hybrid programs ó I do three weeks online and then fly across the country once a month for 4 very intense days of labs and practicals. This approach let me keep working through the first three-plus years of the program (we stretch it to four total; the last 9 months are full-time clinical rotations). I still have some crazy loans, but all things considered Iím coming out ahead this way versus a local full-time program. Itís possible to have kids during this kind of setup as well. My daughter turns 5 soon, and we have quite a few parents in the cohort, with probably a dozen little ones between everybody.

It is very competitive to get in. Programs will vary, but youíll probably want to shoot for straight As in your prereqs and above 300 on the GRE. Observation in multiple settings is also a major benefit; it can be tough and take a while to get in and observe in acute care, but itís definitely worth it, for the exposure to different aspects of PT if nothing else.

The difficulty level once youíre in is also very high. Nothing in particular is necessarily all that hard on its own, but there is a ton of material. The transition to the DPT involves additional training in imaging, pathology, pharmacology, and differential diagnosis that was not necessarily emphasized as much before. Again, nothing crazy on its own, but thereís just a lot to manage.

The income doesnít really match the cost of entry at this point. Different settings do pay differently, and there are definitely non traditional models to pursue if you want to start your own thing (cash-only practice, online niches, outpatient on wheels, setting up in CrossFit gyms, etc). There are people doing some very exciting things. Thereís also a lot of frustration and burnout. You might check out the salary report stuff at UpDoc media, I think it gets a little more granular than what youíll find through, say, the Department of Labor.

If youíre absolutely sure this is the path for you, I would not say itís a foolish pursuit! Iíd definitely make the same choice againóthereís a lot to be said for getting out from behind the desk. In a worst-case scenario, thereís income-based repayment which you can manipulate to some degree with aggressive retirement savings. Plus it sounds like youíre in a good position to absorb the financial hit.

Good luck, I hope you enjoy shadowing!

Can you advise on your hybrid program?  How do you find out about these programs?

goalphish2002

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2019, 05:51:21 PM »
May be better as a case study, but it's also a topic of broad discussion for me.

Backstory: I have a BBA in Management, about 5 years in the workforce, and am currently a Project Controls Specialist with a midstream engineering company - on a trajectory to be a Scheduler within the next say 36 months (~$90-100k/year). We have no debt save our mortgage ($1300/month), two paid off vehicles with under 100k miles, 6 months emergency fund, 25k brokerage account, plus well-established IRAs and 401ks. Our life expenses can nearly be covered by my wife's employment as a teacher - a highly stable job. We would like to start having kids in the next two summers.

Thoughts: Although there is great opportunity for growth in my org, my team is awesome, and my boss is super approachable and brilliant, I don't find any fulfillment from making another person rich, and I spend half of my time with not much to do, staring blankly at a computer screen. I'm not an extrovert in the whole sense, but I get pleasure through service. In fact, I worked through school as a waiter and bartender. Additionally, one of my greatest hobbies is the mechanics of the body and finding optimization. The idea of DPT school has been simmering for a few years now, but I've never had the gumption to pull the trigger. A little research says it would take about 10 prereqs, GRE, and a measure of luck to get into the school in my area.

I've taken the first step and will be shadowing PTs at two different clinics in the coming month to figure out if this is just a hobby or is a true professional interest, and I'm going to put numbers to paper to see exactly what it would look like to go back to school.

But I have a few questions:
1) the costs/difficulty (both in acceptance and studies) of PT school?
2) income ability?
3) career and growth opportunities?
4) a day in the life?
5) am I foolish to pursue a second career and take debt as a 31 year old with kids in the near future?
6) general advice/anything else I'm missing?

Please help point me in the right direction!

This is definitely interesting, and I'm posting to follow.  I have a business background, and I happen to work in project controls also.  I have always been interested in this career but always felt like the path was too long.  I have seen another poster mention a hybrid program, and I found a few thru Google.  I think this could definitely be a viable option if you wanted to work while going thru the program.  I would think long and hard about what will make you happy and your family secure.  You could plan to retire ASAP, and then start a FT program. 

I would also think about your current situation.  You seem to have a good job and are surrounded by good people, with a bright future ahead.  But, maybe you are a little bored with downtime at work.  You could fill this time in various ways.  As far as being fulfilled, that is a tricky situation.  I believe most of us are being ingrained and/or indoctrinated to find a passion or feel we are wasting our lives.  There is a debate on both sides.  I suggest reading some of the works by Cal Newport.  Many people are chronically unhappy and looking for fulfillment thru various careers, and Cal argues that you can find fulfillment in a situation like your current career.         

Zette

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2019, 12:28:18 AM »
What does the D in DPT stand for?

goalphish2002

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2019, 07:07:04 AM »
What does the D in DPT stand for?

Doctor

SteadyDoinIt

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2019, 10:37:57 AM »
...

2) I think my desire to go back to school is because I am uncomfortable being comfortable. Every time I hit a milestone, instead of enjoying the moment I look for new ways to delay gratification- I do not believe that this mindset will change with any level of education. Also if you look around at people who have achieved FI, you will find multiple who went on to seek graduate degrees and never used them.

...

I believe there is a ton of truth in that for me too. Continuous improvement through moving the target I think is necessary, but eventually the cost outweighs the benefit, right?

This is a case where my momentum (undergrad, professional experience, opportunity) is carrying me in one direction while my heart is carrying me in another. Does it make more sense to continue floating with the current or admit to the sunken costs and bite the bullet ASAP?

I'm putting numbers to paper little by little, and with the considerable time between now and potential acceptance, I believe that we can create quite the financial runway. I'm reserving final judgment until shadowing is complete and will or will not begin prereqs based on that assessment.

SteadyDoinIt

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2019, 10:41:30 AM »
I would keep in mind that there are many ways to serve your community outside of your chosen career. If you feel you are lacking purpose through your career, perhaps there is another avenue in your life that you could be serving or giving to others. That being said, our careers are a big part of our time, so I can understand a desire to switch when you aren't feeling fulfilled.

I have the fortune of knowing some current PTs and PT students, and it is important to know that school can be expensive. You're in a pretty good situation given that your wife works and is able to cover most of your expenses, but coming out of PT school even in your situation I would expect a debt:income ratio of about 1-1.5:1. You could come out a little better if you all are able to cut back. I would also say with kids in the near future, I would be hesitant to switch jobs, but no one says you can't be going to school and have kids. There are certainly folks in my med school class who are in that situation, but they also have help at home.

I hope this helps a little.

.5:1 debt to income is what my 30k ft numbers are showing. Even though that's not a fortune, it stings to know that we could be in a similar boat debt-wise that we were in a few years ago. Those times were not fun, so the end of PT school definitely does not mark the end of the "worry". Is that worth it in the end?

SteadyDoinIt

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2019, 10:50:17 AM »
...

I would also think about your current situation.  You seem to have a good job and are surrounded by good people, with a bright future ahead.  But, maybe you are a little bored with downtime at work.  You could fill this time in various ways.  As far as being fulfilled, that is a tricky situation.  I believe most of us are being ingrained and/or indoctrinated to find a passion or feel we are wasting our lives.  There is a debate on both sides.  I suggest reading some of the works by Cal Newport.  Many people are chronically unhappy and looking for fulfillment thru various careers, and Cal argues that you can find fulfillment in a situation like your current career.       

It's funny you mention Cal because I actually have Deep Work in queue once I finish the book I'm working on now. Is this first the one that you'd recommend?

SteadyDoinIt

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2019, 10:56:00 AM »
All other replies:

Thank y'all for spending a few minutes helping me further develop my train of thought. I'm taking into consideration everybody's comments and especially appreciate those that have replied from a perspective similar to mine and those that have walked down the road to PT.

Eventually I'm in danger of paralysis by analysis, so I will keep taking incremental steps to come to a conclusion ASAP. Then, I'll be decisive in making a decision and will "burn the boat" behind me.

goalphish2002

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2019, 12:20:14 PM »
...

I would also think about your current situation.  You seem to have a good job and are surrounded by good people, with a bright future ahead.  But, maybe you are a little bored with downtime at work.  You could fill this time in various ways.  As far as being fulfilled, that is a tricky situation.  I believe most of us are being ingrained and/or indoctrinated to find a passion or feel we are wasting our lives.  There is a debate on both sides.  I suggest reading some of the works by Cal Newport.  Many people are chronically unhappy and looking for fulfillment thru various careers, and Cal argues that you can find fulfillment in a situation like your current career.       

It's funny you mention Cal because I actually have Deep Work in queue once I finish the book I'm working on now. Is this first the one that you'd recommend?

That is a good book, but I was referring to this one:  So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

"In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice.  Not only is the clichť flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping.

After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers.

Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before.
In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.

With a title taken from the comedian Steve Martin, who once said his advice for aspiring entertainers was to "be so good they can't ignore you," Cal Newport's clearly written manifesto is mandatory reading for anyone fretting about what to do with their life, or frustrated by their current job situation and eager to find a fresh new way to take control of their livelihood. He provides an evidence-based blueprint for creating work you love.

SO GOOD THEY CAN'T IGNORE YOU will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life."

MMMarbleheader

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Re: DPT as Second Career
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2019, 01:03:04 PM »
Have you thought of channeling your skills (cost controls, scheduling, etc.) into a non-profit setting?

You could work for a college, university, municipality, or hospital in their facilities department. Or work with a non-profit that assists with builds over seas such as Engineers without borders or Build Health international.

https://www.buildhealthinternational.org/