Anybody switch from being PTA to RN?

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banks78 in Towson, Maryland

54 months ago

bluelineman,

You're question caught my interest... I'm a career changer with a BS in business, and have been accepted into a PTA program. I shadowed a ton of different environments SNF, Rehab hospital, Sports Rehab, and liked it. I'm now in my A&P classes and am doing very well, and love it. I'm now thinking that PTA might be too boring over time. I'm in a dilema whether to start the PTA program, or to go get my BSN, or PA. BSN would only be 3 semesters. The whole being a male in nursing has me skiddish, but I guess PT for the most part is a womans field as well.

What I like about PTA is that weekends are off, and nights. I love the travel opportunities, and Home Health looks like it would be very flexible and very lucrative, more so than RN new grads.

I'm 32 and single, thinking of maybe working 15 years in patient care, then might look for mgmt. Any recommendations, being a vet in the PT field?

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bluelineman in McKinney, Texas

54 months ago

I have worked in just about all the different settings. I learned in the Military, mostly outpatient & sports medicine. Then got out & worked inpatient acute, outpatient, long term acute. Filled in @ SNF, rehab, etc. Worked contract in every setting, now doing home health. I wish I would've discovered home health a long time ago! It's flexable & pays well. I also like the independence. They give you the weekly list & its up to you to get it done. We do everything electronically too, so I only go to the office once a week for a meeting. It does help having experience, because you are alone & have to think on your feet.

I do like the weekends & nights off too. For nurses it really depends on where you work & in what setting. My sister & bro in law are nurses & I've worked with a lot of nurses, so I've seen first hand how it all works. In fact, my bro in law just finished CRNA school. It's basically a masters program & pays $150K with no call, in the 200's if you take call. He worked OR for his 10 years as an RN. He did lots of call & made about 100K his last few years before going to school. My sister worked in about every setting & is now in law school.

Both career fields have their pros & cons. The pros with nursing are that you can work any shift, 24/7 (also could be a con), and I believe that the pay ceiling is higher for RNs. I am about maxed out & am 39 years old. They also have a lot better management opportunities. We have very few, unless you want to run a nursing home therapy dept. Sorry, that setting is of no interest to me. In the Military they taught us to run clinics, but in the civilian world it is dominated by PT's. So they get to make the rules. I am not bitter, just pointing out the facts. Nurses have the advantage of different settings. I'd like to work ICU or OR, I could see myself taking more of an interest in working OR over the long haul.

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bluelineman in McKinney, Texas

54 months ago

Also, with PTA, if you want to become a PT, there is no bridge program like LVN to RN, or ADN RN to BSN RN. You have to go for a doctorate degree. Well, actually there are 2 programs for the entire country! Bridge programs for nurses are everywhere. And why would I want to get a DPT to do basically what I do now? All that would be new would be new evals & discharge visits. In home health I get paid (with experience) what a senior PT gets paid in outpatient! But again, I'm basically maxed out. Not much room for advancement left.

Basically, you have to weight the options for you & see what's important. I still don't know if I'm going to do the ADN program or not. My wife wants to do it. I probably should take the pre-reqs just in case. They shouldn't be all that hard. For you, if you go nursing, it sounds to me like the 3 semester BSN program would be a good idea. If starting from scratch, both my sister & bro in law recommend ADN program because it's shorter & you get working quicker. Then bridge later online. That's what they did.

As far as getting into management with the PTA career field, opportunities are mostly geared for PTs. It's about the degree, not so much the person. And if you did get a position, it would be at a fraction of what a PT would get paid for the same position. I've been offered a few positions over the years but turned most down because of the low pay for more headaches just didn't seem worth it to me. I ran the weekends at a major inpatient acute care hospital in Dallas, but it was only the day to day stuff, scheduling, etc.

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bluelineman in McKinney, Texas

54 months ago

Sorry for the ramble, just re-read your post. As far as a male in nursing, here's what my sister & bro in law said. Both have 13 years experience each. They said that as a whole males have better opportunities for advancement because we are the minority. If you can show management potential, you have a slight edge. Same goes with women in the PT career field. Most of my bosses have been women. I personally don't care which they are as long as they know what they're doing & take care of their people. On the flip side, there is a stigma about men in nursing. Some people wonder if they're gay or why they didn't go to medical school (Meet the Parents comes to mind). Most people I've come in contact with don't have that problem once people figure out you know what you're talking about. Speaking of which, as a PTA you have to prove yourself to the PTs in each new setting you go to. There is a feeling out period where they keep you on a short leash until they get to know you. Now, most of them pretty much let me do whatever I want (within reason of course). But if I go to a new job, I basically have to start that relationship all over again.

The APTA (American Physical Therapy Assoc) is VERY biased towards PTs. Most PTs I work with agree. We can be "affiliate" members. You have to join the federal & state chapters. For PTAs in Texas, its $293 a year! That's $190 federal & $103 state dues. All you get is a cruddy magazine that most people don't read & supposedly they lobby for you. The last time I was a member was because my job paid for it (rare). I quit because I didn't want to waste their money. The APTA wrote me asking why I quit. I wrote them a detailed description on why I felt it wasn't worth the money for what they "did" for me.

I hope I don't sound disgruntled, I'm really not. I'm just trying to point out some of the behind the scenes stuff that people don't tell you.

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banks78 in Towson, Maryland

54 months ago

Bluelineman,

Thanks for the information. That was great insight into the PTA field and nursing.

Question, you mentioned that as a PTA you always have to prove yourself. So if I did travel PT with 3 month assignments, i'd constantly have to be doing this. Hopefully over time one with years over their belt this wouldn't be common.

Also, with Home Health PTA. I have found companies that pay per visit. They offer $50 per visit. Also, full benefits and mileage re-imbursement. Do you know how the $50 or per visit rates are taxed? Is it taxed the same as per hour roughly 27% or is it more heavily taxed like a commission or bonus?

Long term if I go the PTA route, HH seems very appealing. I was an Outside sales rep for 8 years so I am very organized in my traveling.

Thanks again for the input!

J

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bluelineman in McKinney, Texas

54 months ago

I wouldn't think you'd have to prove yourself with traveling. I didn't when I did contract work. You just basically let them know when your strengths are & areas your are weak in. Hopefully they can put you in settings that work for both of you. When I went contract & moved to Chicago, it was initially for inpatient at a hospital. When they found out about my years in woundcare, & that I was certified in placing wound VAC's by KCI @ their headquarters, they switched me to outpatient (which I was happy about) because they did a lot of woundcare there. I did later go to inpatient on a rotating basis due to slow census in outpatient. Most of the time in contract or traveling positions, they know you are likely very adaptable due to the multiple settings you've worked in previously.

My HH position is full time hourly, with benefits + mileage. I've seen salary positions & PRN (Per visit) also. You need to see if they take out taxes. Most PRN positions around here pay about $50/visit. One place pays $70 but doesn't take out any taxes, just gives you a 1099 at the end of the year. I did one visit for them then realized that wasn't for me.

I like the flexibility & independence with HH. The $$ is nice too. Our office is supportive too, that makes a big difference.

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banks78 in Towson, Maryland

54 months ago

Bluelineman,

In HH, what is a realistic number of patients you can see in a day? I know this all depends on travel, but if patients were within 10-30 mile radius. I know paperwork also effects total number of patients.

Is is realistic to say you can make 70k in HH?

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bluelineman in McKinney, Texas

54 months ago

I typically see about 6-8 patients per day. My territory is large, so I try to group them based on geography. Because my area is larger than most of the PT's, they don't get too excited when I go below my quota (32-35/week). In fact, they've never said anything to me about it because I periodically remind them that my drive time is more than most. 99% of our documentation is done on a pocket PC, basically cell phone that has slide out keyboard. Synching it back to the office is nice, but slower than writing on paper. Up side is I avg going to the office once per week. Sometimes less.

I have 20 years experience, so I'm sure a new grad isn't likely to make as much upon hiring. To answer your question though, yes you can. You have to check around, look at the working conditions, their expectations, etc. They vary greatly from company to company. Some places don't want to pay as much as others. I guess it depends on how bad they need somebody. I get $35/hr, which is about $72K. Sometimes I get overtime, others not. Some other places have not offered nearly as much salary. Mileage reimbursement is non-taxable income. That helps a lot. I think their original offer was $25/hr upon hiring, I negotiated higher right off the bat. Told them I would turn in my 2 weeks notice right away if they did that. They took the bait fortunately.

Actually on the salary... I started a 1 1/2 years ago @ $30/hr, hours guaranteed. Which basically meant I was salary. When they switched me to hourly 6 months ago, they sweetened the deal (because they broke their end of the original agreement) by increasing my salary by $5.

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bluelineman in McKinney, Texas

54 months ago

Another thing...here's what I ask when looking at HH companies.

-Salary or hourly (most are hourly for PTA's)
-How many visits per week?
-Mileage rate
-Salary range
-Paper notes or electronic documentation, if elec, what kind?
-what territory? Some local companies want you to go way out.

Driving is fine with me but it's the time it takes to drive that kills you. Also ask if you go over quota, is there extra money? Some pay at PRN rate, others (for hourly) pay overtime. Might also ask what they do if hours get low.

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banks78 in Towson, Maryland

54 months ago

Bluelineman,

Great information! Thanks again!

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