Physical Therapy Career Advice

I am going to retire from the Navy in 9 months and am seriously considering pursuing a career in Physical Therapy. They say that you should follow your passions and happiness will follow, so after many years of sacrifice and compromise to get my 20 years in I need to ask you all for a little guidance since I don’t have a background in this field, merely the passion and interest. I have a BS in History and an MBA, but don’t have any basic undergrad prereqs like anatomy, biology, kinesology and would likely have to work part time for a year to get those under my belt.

At first I was considering a choice between Athletic Trainer (ATC), Chiropractic, or Physical Therapy. After serious consideration, I believe that I am old enough (42) to give this one last shot and work in a second career and the ATC seems a lower standard that I can attain and surpass as a DPT while not having to work weekends with collegiate teams.

Best schools, any advice for how to begin working in the field, etc is greatly appreciated and solicited from anyone working in this arena. Some items I was considering were where my internships would be and if anyone worthwhile practices near a good school (thinking in terms of a Ball State, or Storrs Connecticut, or maybe in Massachusetts near Cressey/Reinhold). One thing I did learn is that sometimes a degree is overrated, and a 12 year old MBA isn’t worth shit, so looking for good feedback on a great learning environment.

I live in San Diego, but will probably have to say goodbye to kids and “let go of the rock” as TC would say to move to the right school. San Diego only has 1 school for DPT and I cant get the prereqs at UCSD/SDSU and SDSD School of Excercise and Nutrition isnt taking any more graduate level students next year (great timing).

Lastly, just to broaden my own horizons if there are any other occupations in this field that would be similar that I am missing, please chime in. What does an Exercise Physiologist do on a daily basis? Stuff like that I just don’t know.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this and even more for responding!

My question would be, what exactly do you want to do with the DPT degree? Do you have a passion for working in a clinic setting? What population do you want to work with? What kind of autonomy would you like to have?

I think all of the degrees you listed (ATC, Chiro, and PT) have great benefits and it all comes down to where you want to work and what will bring you the most enjoyment. I currently am an ATC and am still young in my career. I have had the privilege of working and interning at several different settings: performance enhancement facilities, collegiate setting (FBS and FCS programs), and currently in a non-traditional setting where I work hand in hand on the same level as PTs, physiotherapists, athletic therapists, etc. I have a lot of colleagues and friends who are DPT and Chiros who also love their job. So again, not to repeat myself too much, it is all about what you will enjoy doing most.

I would recommend contacting some places, see if you can do some shadowing with them for a whole day to get the complete picture (every setting has pros and cons, so you don’t want to just see one or the other). After checking out several of your options that you are considering, then you can see what would be required for schooling and make a decision from there.

If you are interested in any other information, feel free to send me a private message.

Thanks Level headed, I worked with an ATC while doing physical therapy for myself and learned a lot from him, but need to do the same for the PT side. Looking at some school application requirements, I also need some clinical assistance time which I can probably get from some Clinics in the Navy.

  • I do know that I don’t want to have to be a slave to a paycheck, i.e. getting a certain number of clients in to pay the bills, but would rather work in a setting where I can assist people freely. I hated working on the side as a personal trainer and doing the 50min session with noobs who needed more time, and always having to sell. I learned I don’t work well in that environment. Perhaps a hospital/school/clinic where I am salaried, and is one reason I am shying away from the chiro realm. I can still learn ART and Graston as a PT.

  • I will be sitting for my CSCS this december and enjoy training athletes, and would prefer a population that is motivated as well, not people who don’t care or don’t want to get better.

What is the non-traditional setting that has a great mix of DPT/Chiro and ATCs? sounds interesting and promising with a great chance for learning! I enjoy helping and educating people, having the experience to try and see what the problem for their dysfunction is and then correcting it. I have been the manager, leader etc, and just want to do the hands-on and enjoy my job.

Thanks for letting me know, I may take you up on the PM later!