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Old 10-15-2010, 05:40 AM
 
Location: Andersonville, Chicago
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Default Nurse, Physical Therapist or Physical Therapist Assistant?

I just started back to school after 15 years and I am torn between these 3 careers: Nurse, Physical Therapist or Physical Therapist Assistant?
I make a whopping nine bucks an hour right now, and need to start making more money asap. Physical Therapist is at least 6-7 years in school if I remember right. PTA is a 1- 2 year program after pre reqs and to become an RN is 4 years I believe. I be honest to say that PTA is what sound most interesting. Partly because of the time frame it takes to become a PTA. How hard is the program compared to nursing school? If you guys would choose, what would you pick?
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Old 10-15-2010, 10:55 AM
 
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Honestly, I think it depends on how old you are, and how much education you are able to afford in the long run. Even if you're 70 years old (and have nothing else to do with your time), I'd personally suggest the PT degree. Or, PTA and go to school part-time for a more advanced degree.

Each career path will be even more in demand as our population ages. PTA, as opposed to a PT/OT Phd or RN degrees, is certainly an easier route to go (as you said, time-wise and the financial output required). But then, you won't be earning nearly the same amount of money either. I know this only by having a friend who is an occupational therapist; his wife was an RN.

Congratulations on going back to school, whatever you decide! Good decision ~
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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I'm a physician, I work with all three types and without a doubt, I would choose nursing over those fields.

Physical Therapy sounds great in theory in reality, it svcks. I order PT consults on my patients and I truly feel sorry for them. Imagine being consulted to go to the floor and get a cancer patient who has been bedridden for weeks to walk or an extremely obese man who just had his foot amputated due to uncontrolled diabetes to walk. Yeah, it's your job to go to his bed and get him out of bed and walk with him down the hall. I have no idea how you guys do that. You could not pay me to become a physical therapist. Or imagine seeing a 82 yo patient who has been hospitalized for altered mental status and has urinated all over himself and is weak and can't even rise up or turn over so that I can put my steth on his back and listen to his lung sounds. Now we consult PT to walk him or get him out of bed to chair. Do you realize how hard it is just to get that guy out of bed? It will probably take you 30 minutes at least and it's a lot of physical work since you are doing all the work to get this 170 lb old man out of bed.

I think nursing is hard but PT is worse. Even the nurses are glad they aren't in PT. Nursing is not bad. They work 3-4 twelve hour shifts a week and can get paid 40-45 per hour with bonus. It's not bad money and there is always a need for nurses. Every hospital, clinic etc can use a nurse.

From my view, I would definitely choose nursing over physical therapy.
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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PT/PTA is a lot of heavy physical work like the previous poster stated. I went for PT on my wrist some years back (I had a tenosynovitis) and the PT was in her mid 40s and was considering Law School because she wanted to get away from the physical work of PT. She was on the average to smaller side, about 5'5" with a slight to medium build, healthy, but not a big burly guy, and dealing with obese patients and even just large patients who needed a lot of help, was wearing on her.

I am not sure how much physical work the PTs do in a large facility where they have PTAs, so it is possible if you go PTA and then DPT, you could get yourself to the point where someone else is doing most of the physical work and you are writing PT plans/prescriptions most of the time. Or you could have your own practice and hire a PTA or tech. But I don't know enough about the field to say whether this is highly likely or not.

Nurses do a lot of physical work too. But overall, I am not sure how it compares. If you are not sure about Nursing and really like PT better, I'd urge you to consider it and find out more about how it would carry you into your later years.

Choosing is difficult! I know - I am having to make some decisions this year too.
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Old 10-16-2010, 05:58 AM
 
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I would choose nursing. It is very, very difficult to get into PT school and like you said, it's about 6 years of schooling and many PT's are going on to get doctorates now so that makes the competition pretty difficult.

Another area to consider is Occupational Therapy. This is a high demand field and isn't as physically intensive as PT or nursing.
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Old 10-16-2010, 01:27 PM
 
Location: Missouri
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I have a good friend who is an OTA and loves it, and gets paid well.
If you like working with kids, you might consider speech therapy. Everyone I know with kids, seems to set their kids up with ST, and there is always a long waiting list. I think ST is cool for adults too. It's not just about talking, they help people learn to swallow, and they help with cognition exercises too. Great for people recovering from strokes.
If you are going to go to school for nursing, I would recommend getting your BSN as well as your RN, and the world is your oyster at that point. I know too many BSN/RNs that got a few years clinical experience under their belt, and then were able to transition easily to management level desk jobs. Haven't touched a patient in years and get paid quite well.
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Old 10-17-2010, 12:04 AM
 
Location: Andersonville, Chicago
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Thank you all for your advice! I am going to look into the PTO also. Right now I am just doing my pre reqs so I have time to think about it.
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Old 10-17-2010, 11:30 AM
Status: "Corn well over knee high!" (set 7 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
67,278 posts, read 54,864,175 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christina0001 View Post
I have a good friend who is an OTA and loves it, and gets paid well.
If you like working with kids, you might consider speech therapy. Everyone I know with kids, seems to set their kids up with ST, and there is always a long waiting list. I think ST is cool for adults too. It's not just about talking, they help people learn to swallow, and they help with cognition exercises too. Great for people recovering from strokes.
If you are going to go to school for nursing, I would recommend getting your BSN as well as your RN, and the world is your oyster at that point. I know too many BSN/RNs that got a few years clinical experience under their belt, and then were able to transition easily to management level desk jobs. Haven't touched a patient in years and get paid quite well.
I certainly agree with the BSN, but the idea that most BSNs are in management is not correct. A BSN does give a nurse opportunities for advancement, e.g. to head nurse or other admin position, but most are doing patient care of some sort. A BSN also offers the opportunity to get a MSN, which can be a nurse practitioner degree. It does not take *much* longer to get a BSN than it does to get an AAS, and is well worth the time investment, IMO.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:03 AM
 
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It sickens me to know that I worked as hard as I did to get my bachelors of science in nursing and I know several PTA's who only went to school for 2 years and are making more...Please expalin the reasoning behind this??? RN's have to do the PTA's job if they are not available and they have much more responsibility than PTA's... I know of a girl who flunked nursing school because she said it was "too difficult". She then decided on PTA school and said "PTA school compares nothing to RN school". She ended up making straight A's because she was use to the hard core studying and training that she was doing while in nursing school.....she now makes more money than me and I have a bachelor's....does this make any scence?
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:56 AM
Status: "Have you hugged your dog today?" (set 14 days ago)
 
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try the idea of having gone to 4 yrs of school, 1 yr of clinical, and getting less pay and less recognition than a nurse. If that appeals to your sense of masochism, you could become a medical technologist.
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