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Kahanu Haake


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December 4, 2017

Katie Murphy

Nursing vs. Physical Therapy

For incoming students, choosing a
degree is never easy. In fact, most students will end up changing their majors
because the major they are studying may not be an interest anymore, or the
courses needed to complete the program may be to rigorous. Nursing is an
exceptional example because it demands a lot from the student to the point
where they are physically and mentally drained, making the student throw away
the degree because it requires too much. Through comparing and contrasting
schooling, job statistics, and work of both careers, we are able to see how
physical therapy creates a happy medium by making a student able to pursue a
degree in health care without having to endure as many expectations as a
typical nursing program.

In order to obtain a degree for
either occupation, the student must go through college to earn the knowledge
and experience necessary to become a nurse or physical therapist. The cost of
attendance for both nursing and physical therapy is $8,250 each semester;
however, to complete these majors students must meet the necessary requirements
to obtain their degree. When it comes to nursing, an undergraduate student
applying to the college of nursing must have a 3.5 GPA, and must score above an
80% on the required entrance exam. During enrollment in the nursing program a
student must withhold a 76% percentage in all classes and exams  (“Bachelor
of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)”).  As for physical therapy, an undergraduate
needs to fulfill all classes necessary for the program with a 2.0 and up.

Unlike the nursing program, physical therapy does not require the student to
have a certain GPA in order to stay within the major, and also does not require
a placement exam (“Bachelor of Science in Exercise
Science with an Emphasis in Sports Performance”). As we can see, physical
therapy already holds less weight upon the student, making it easier for the
student to reach the goal of receiving the degree.

When it comes to finding a job
post-grad, the demand for nursing jobs is expected to grow by 15% between 2016
and 2026 (“Occupational Outlook Handbook”, 2017). The amount of jobs
for a registered nurse in Arizona was between 35,220 and 63,820 in 2016 (“29-1141 Registered Nurses”, 2017). For
physical therapists, the demand for jobs is expected to grow by 25% between the
same years, and the amount of jobs for physical therapists in Arizona was
between 2,660 and 4,850 in 2016 (“29-1123
Physical Therapists”, 2017). Furthermore, the starting annual
salary for a nurse in Arizona is $67,490 (“Nurse
Salary in Arizona”).  As for
a physical therapist, the starting salary typically begins around $84,000 in
Arizona (“Physical Therapist”).

The demand for nurses is higher than physical therapists, but the growth of
jobs for physical therapists is higher by 10%. Physical therapists also get paid
nearly $20,000 more per year than registered nurses.

When it comes to working as a nurse
or physical therapist, the work environment of these two occupations is quite
similar. Most nurses and physical therapists are seen in local hospitals
nationwide. They are usually moving from room to room, checking and working
with patients; however, their work requirements differ. A nurse is tasked with
assessing a patient’s medical conditions, administering medicines and
treatments, and performing diagnostic tests (“What Registered Nurses Do”,
2017). On the other hand, a physical therapist is tasked with diagnosing
patients by observing their movements while they stand or walk. Furthermore,
they use exercises to ease the patient’s pain and increase their mobility (“What
Physical Therapists Do”, 2017). Physical therapists focus on the patient in
ways doctors do; however, they are specialized in treating the patient’s
physical injuries and diagnoses. Nurses are separated because they only carry
out what the doctors prescribe to treat the patient; therefore, physical
therapists are seemingly higher than nurses in how they are able to develop
treatments based on what the surgeon or doctor has diagnosed.

Students looking for a way to pursue
a degree in health care without enduring the many expectations on nursing
should enroll in physical therapy because it has many similar aspects as
nursing without as many expectations. Physical therapy requires less
requirements for schooling than nursing, and involves less demand in terms of
test scores and GPA (“Bachelor of Science in
Exercise Science with an Emphasis in Sports Performance”). A physical
therapist also makes more annually than a nurse does by about $20,000, and has
a higher rate of job growth by 10% (“29-1123
Physical Therapists”, 2017). Physical therapists are able to not
only treat the patients according to the patient’s diagnosis as nurses do, but
also create the treatments for the patients on their own, which nurses are
unable to do (“What Physical Therapists Do”, 2017). Overall, a physical
therapist goes through less with a bigger outcome in the end.




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