What do you wish you knew before deciding to become a physical therapist
I'm entering college next year and plan on becoming one, but not much people talk about this career at all; What about the level of competition? What are some thing you struggle with on a daily basis? Etc. #health #physical-therapist #therapy #wellness-and-fitness
Brendon Larsen, PTA
I'm a PT Assistant, so my answers may be a little different. If you're referring to "competition" as job market saturation, you'll be just fine. There are many more open positions that there are job seekers and the demand is expected to increase by another 34%. (I wrote on this here: https://www.careervillage.org/questions/26275/does-physical-therapy-have-a-bright-outlook-for-a-career?page=1#58015)
Daily Struggles: Sometimes it really drags to work with patients who aren't willing to do their part, or who are obviously faking their condition in an attempt to fraudulently receive workers' compensation or disability. These cases are rare but I saw one this week. Paperwork can be a drag (that's true for all medical professions) and that's part of the reason I chose to become a PTA. Physical therapists are responsible for the paperwork involving evaluations, plan of care extensions, discharges and daily notes. PTAs only do daily notes. It's nice.
Daily Bonuses: Meeting the best people. Ever. Seriously, you get to meet a lot of very cool people with amazing experiences. Since it's common that you'll see these patients multiple times a week for several weeks, you get to know them in a way that no other health care provider does. You actually see them progress each day and see how excited they become. You can actually end up becoming very close friends. It's an incredibly fulfilling career in that sense.
Things you should know going in:
- Insurance companies suck. We hate them. (Not really, but they're annoying)
- Study hard as an undergraduate. PT School can be very competitive to get into and will build on the foundational courses you'll take in college (anatomy. anatomy. anatomy.)
- Join the Pre-PT club. It'll 2 hours a week. Tops. But you'll learn a ton and be much better prepared for graduate school.
- At least consider Physical Therapist Assistant as a career option. 2-4 years of school instead of 7. Less paperwork, but also less income. (I make about 70% of what my PT colleges make. I'm told that the average is that we make about 60% as much.) You'll also have six-figures less debt.
- The military offers great scholarships for PT school that don't require being deployed.
- You won't have to work with old people, children, or athletes. You can pick a group and specialize or you can be a generalist. You can also work in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, or outpatient clinics. You can work with stroke patients, cancer survivors or any specific body part. You can also be a generalist. They're all and great in their own way.