Physical Therapy or Nursing?

  1. 2
    Just wondering if anyone thought about physical therapy as opposed to nursing and, if you chose nursing, why you chose it. Thanks for your feedback, Joetex12
    Leelee82 and sam3992 like this.
  2. 7 Comments so far...

  3. 0
    Maybe my experience can help you:
    When I chose nursing as my second career, I had a lot of nurses encouraging me to do it and others who said, "Why don't you just be a PT so you have have nights, weekends, and holidays off." Anyway, I spent time shadowing nurses, PTs, OTs, etc... Their jobs all overlap but the focuses are different.
    I work as a rehab aide in the hospital, and the PTs focus on evaluating the new PT orders, seeing the client, working with them to see how much they do can physically and have sessions to improve the patient's level of physical function. Really, it ended up being either bed exercises, walking with the patient as far as they can safely make it, transferring then into a bed or chair, etc. In the hospital environment, it's a pretty stable job although not always exciting. Many PTs work other PRN or FT jobs at outpatient clinics. One guy has his own practice. PTs do have a variety of areas they can move into.
    However, PT school is competitive, expensive and hard. If you can manage that, It definitely seems like a great career to get into.
    I'm choosing nursing as my second career because I want to be directly involved in the patient's medical care, not just one aspect of it. I believe PT would bore me after a short while. In nursing, there are just so many areas to switch into if you start getting burnt out. Not to mention that my nursing program at Community College is VERY CHEAP and lasts less than two years.
    After shadowing and working in the hospital with PTs, OTs, and RN's, my gut tells me that I was right for choosing nursing.
    See if your local hospital system has a way for you to volunteer or shadow PTs/nurses. Or you could even do like I did and find a job in the hospital as a nursing assistant, rehab aide, emergency dept. tech, unit secretary, etc. to give you exposure.

    Good luck!
  4. 0
    i was very serious about going into physical therapy. although looking at schoolng which is now a doctorate degree (aprox 8 years) i reconsidred it. nursing is in such great demand with endless oportunities. being accepted into pt school is very very competetive.
  5. 4
    Hi Joetex12,

    I have been a physical therapist assistant for 14 years now. To become a physical therapist most programs are now at the doctorate level. When I applied to PTA school, PT's were only required to have a bachelors degree. Physical therapy's educational requirement has risen dramatically in the last 10 years. Their salary has not reflected a return on their educational investment. These programs are very expensive and most PT's come out making about the same hourly that a nurse does unless they work in ortho or home health and then it is similar to per diem rates. Some hospitals pay PT's less than nurses. Basically like nursing, the schools tell you not to go into it for the money. I'm not saying there are not clinic owners making bank. Those are the EXCEPTION, like the travel or agency nurse working their behinds off.

    It would be less work for me to transition from PTA to PT but I really want to be a leader in healthcare and there are many more opportunities in nursing than there are in PT. As I have grown and learned more about physical therapy I have become more interested in behavior, body systems, medication etc.. I am limited to bones, muscles and the neurological system. That may seem very simplistic but it's basically what PT's deal with on a daily basis.
    To apply to PT school more chemistry & physics is required. Generally, between 16-18 units a semester year round for three years on top of a bachelors and pre reqs. I have heard of one school that weeds out students at the graduate level. It is tough!

    BTW, there are only 3 PTA to PT transition programs in the entire US. The nursing profession has made it very accessible for nurses to further their education if that's what they choose to do.

    Good luck in your search for the best profession for you! It is quite a journey.
    Sharanjit, tthor5220, Quickbeam, and 1 other like this.
  6. 0
    I have said many times if I had it to do over, I would have been a PT instead of RN for some of the good reasons listed above. That said, I would not do it if it required a doctorate. Nursing has a lot of variety and has keep it interesting for me all these years, I just think PT deals with a different and also interesting aspect. Plus all the PTs I have ever seen are in great shape physically!
  7. 0
    Thanks for your responses, bump...
  8. 0
    The majority of PT's and PTA's are in great shape and most of us DON"T workout in a rigorous excercise program. We are way too tired after an 8... yes, I said 8 hour shift to workout 3 times a week. We get most of our workout during the day demonstrating excercises to patients. PT is physically demanding.

    I wake up many mornings wondering why my legs or back or shoulders are sore. Then I remember the type of excercises I taught in the previous days and there you have it. Helping Johnny jump across the gym for 10 minutes was a great workout on my quads.

    Now you know our secret.
  9. 0
    Quote from StarryNyte713
    Maybe my experience can help you:
    When I chose nursing as my second career, I had a lot of nurses encouraging me to do it and others who said, "Why don't you just be a PT so you have have nights, weekends, and holidays off." Anyway, I spent time shadowing nurses, PTs, OTs, etc... Their jobs all overlap but the focuses are different.
    I work as a rehab aide in the hospital, and the PTs focus on evaluating the new PT orders, seeing the client, working with them to see how much they do can physically and have sessions to improve the patient's level of physical function. Really, it ended up being either bed exercises, walking with the patient as far as they can safely make it, transferring then into a bed or chair, etc. In the hospital environment, it's a pretty stable job although not always exciting. Many PTs work other PRN or FT jobs at outpatient clinics. One guy has his own practice. PTs do have a variety of areas they can move into.
    However, PT school is competitive, expensive and hard. If you can manage that, It definitely seems like a great career to get into.
    I'm choosing nursing as my second career because I want to be directly involved in the patient's medical care, not just one aspect of it. I believe PT would bore me after a short while. In nursing, there are just so many areas to switch into if you start getting burnt out. Not to mention that my nursing program at Community College is VERY CHEAP and lasts less than two years.
    After shadowing and working in the hospital with PTs, OTs, and RN's, my gut tells me that I was right for choosing nursing.
    See if your local hospital system has a way for you to volunteer or shadow PTs/nurses. Or you could even do like I did and find a job in the hospital as a nursing assistant, rehab aide, emergency dept. tech, unit secretary, etc. to give you exposure.

    Good luck!
    What was your experience like shadowing OTs? I am thinking about OT. It will only take me 2 years of schooling.


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