So after spending nearly 3 and a half years at a college not fully enjoying my classes and major, I am now faced with the reality of figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have explored options in the fields I have taken classes in, and I can see myself in careers associated with these fields. However, a. the process for getting there is long and arduous b. I really don't think I'd be happy in the entry level jobs needed to get to where I want to be c. sometimes the end result is very low paying and/or has long hours. I need time/money for horses in there!
So, I thought about what I really want to do. I love horses, but I am nowhere near the skill level needed to be a trainer. I am interested in movement and exercise. I like to help people learn new skills and overcome obstacles. So, I thought physical therapy might be a good choice for me. According to what I've found, most schools have 100% or near 100% placement in jobs after graduation. My eventual plan would be to cater to riders.
Anyway, the gist of my actual question (you were wondering when I was gonna get there, weren'tcha?) is: dun dun DUN-- I have taken like 0 of the requirements (my school doesn't have distribution requirements and I really didn't like math and science in high school). Now, I did take bio, chem, and calc in high school and did fine. I think I would do much better if I had a purpose behind taking the classes. So, questions:
1) Am I totally crazy/will I get nowhere with taking almost all of my pre-reqs at community college?
2) How much did you use your math/science background in your classes in a DPT program?
3) If you did take classes at a community college, did you feel less prepared than other students?
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I'm not a PT, but have spent months being treated by them. Unlike Lex, the PTs that I know have clearly made it their careers--many have been at it for 20+ years and come highly recommended by their orthopedic practices. The schooling is VERY difficult and getting into a PT program can be a challenge--according to the two assistants who were working thru college pre-req's and applying to PT schools while I was being rehabbed. It is a physically challenging job for the PT, hours can be long (but regular) and you have to have both good people skills and a tolerance of touching (quite intimately at times) all kinds of people--young, old, fat, smelly, etc.
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Thanks! Calvincrowe, those are very important things to consider. In order to get into PT school you generally need a minimum number of hours either volunteering or working in the field in an entry level job (an aide for example). My plan is to work as an aide while satisfying the prereqs at community college. If I really don't like it, I'll hopefully realize pretty soon, and I have my undergrad degree in something entirely different. It is most likely between PT school, law school, or a degree in urban planning. I just really think I'd like a job where I would be stuck behind a desk on the computer all day.
LexInVA can you elaborate at all? Do you know why your acquaintances left the field?
If I were to say anything - and I can only say based on anecdotal evidence and my own observations when I don't know specifically - it was because of the aforementioned things. The level of commitment and the nature of the work really require certain personality traits and a genuine desire to help people above all else and I think that really makes the difference. Many of the PTs I know who have stuck with it as a career are doing niche PT, either with handicapped/disabled/special needs or athletes and are not dealing with any old person who needs PT. In fact, I would say that most of the people I've met involved in PT are women who work solely with Athletes and I have not seen any men doing PT though I would not say that they aren't out there working in the field.
PT work here, that I have seen, is generally affiliated with hospitals and orthopedic clinics.
The PT certified people are very good and keep learning to stay certified, go to seminars, etc.
I would say the ones that do well with this are passionate and caring people, just as passionate as others working with horses or any other, that are good, tend to be.
Being a competitive field, you have to feel that you are going to be dedicated and good, or you may have trouble liking it and it will show.
Why don't you ask some hospital about shadowing a good PT and see what you think?
The lady that runs our non-profit handicapped horse therapy two days works the other days in the hospital as a PT.
I am not sure you can specialize just in riders, I expect they may not be enough of them for full time work.
Like with any field, once you are checking it out, a whole new world will open for you and you may find a spot on it, or move on if not.
I'm not a PT but have been in physical therapy many times and have two friends who are almost finished with their PT degree. I think the biggest thing for any career is that you have to enjoy it and same for the schooling process, you have to really want what you're aiming for to get through it. Keep in mind that to become a PT it takes quite a bit of schooling (more than some other careers) and it's an ongoing process, PT's are constantly having to keep up with newer methods. Also, I don't think there is anything wrong with taking pre-reqs at a good community college, it's cheaper that way and really there's really no difference in classes between a 4yr college or comm college. If I were you just think about what the job entails, what schooling you'll have to go through, and really ask yourself if you'll be happy doing this with your life. Take it from someone who changed her major 3 times, there's no shame in taking your time figuring out what career will make you happy (and of course support our horsey habits!)
Ok, I am a PT--completed my DPT in 2008 and have been practicing since. Yes, you can get all your pre-reqs at a community college. However, each school differs with their requirements; generally you need a bachelor's degree, qualifying scores for GRE, 100+ hours of clinical observation (usually in 2-3 different settings) in addition to courses like anatomy/physiology, physics, etc etc. The best schools are rather hard to get into--the year I entered had less than a 20% entrance rate and even then courses are designed to "weed out" those who aren't truly committed---this is standard for any school. I think my class started with 50 people and only 26 people graduated my year.
I entered with a B.Sc. concentration in genetics and took a few community college courses for pre-reqs. Honestly, it doesn't matter where you take them--PT school will go over everything and anything you need to know. You definitely need a DPT (doctorate) program though--everything else (master's, etc) are being transitioned over, and I'm not even sure you can enter at a lower level.
It really is a specific career though--plenty of choices at the moment, but unless you are independently wealthy, expect anywhere from 30-150k in student loans that employers are no longer paying back.
If you aren't entirely sure about PT specifically, but want a somewhat solid career, do the 2 year PTA program. Salary ranges 18-24/hour and you won't have the same liability or student loans to worry about.
Being a PA (Physician Assistant) is also a possibility--I don't have stats on that, but know several PTs who made the transition into being Ortho PAs.
Take home message--being a PTA is a "go to" career for the salary. Same with a COTA (OT assistant), or even an RN. But PT and OT (and SLP) demand too much time/money to just do for the job security. Which no longer even exists given recent Medicare and Obamacare changes. Good Luck.
Thank you! Bluey, that's a really good idea re: shadowing in a hospital. It's good to know that the community college thing isn't a huge issue. I'm going to graduate with a B.A., I just don't have the pre-reqs because my major is entirely different.
Nandi, that is exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, any grad school is going to be an expense, so that's not a huge issue. I would definitely go for a DPT. I don't think law school would be any cheaper! I do think I would be much more inspired by working to improve peoples' quality of life as opposed to figuring out how to get the most money out of them :/ I'm glad that hours are required, so if I really don't like the field I'll be able to see early on. It is very good to know that hours in multiple settings are required/recommended.
My plan is to specialize in the sports medicine side of physical therapy. I would prefer to work in an outpatient setting. I'd work at a clinic for a while, then open my own practice and market myself to equestrians (while still seeing other patients if need be). I've found that the medical professionals I've interacted with don't really understand horseback riders, so I'd like to fill that gap.