Is being a doctor right for me? Something I'm missing?

I have been working toward becoming a physical therapist for years now and I’m getting close to completing my undergrad and then ready to apply. However, I started to consider the idea of applying to DO school instead thinking that I would become a primary care physician because then I can treat patients but have access to a much fuller scope of medicine.

I shadowed a family doctor and was a bit disappointed that we got such little time with each patient. Even though the variety was there I felt like there wasn’t much hands on. It was just talking, a quick assessment and then some advice or write a rx. I volunteered at a health clinic and although I had fun I started feeling a bit out of place.

I currently work as an exercise instructor and a physical therapy tech. I woke up one day, not in the best mood since I’ve been a bit stressed, I made it to my first exercise group and immediately felt better. I then went to work in the MS/Parkinsons exercise group and worked one-on-one with a lady for an hour and she was showing massive improvement and put me on cloud 9. Then I went into the aquatic room and worked with a group of MS patients who told me after working with me they feel muscles they didn’t know they had.

I loved this and it started to cross my mind that maybe physical therapy is where I need to be. I love the exercise aspect and the manual manipulation and I love working with people for that longer duration and being hands on. What scares me from PT is the lack of money. It seems like I’m spending so much on school and I’ll be lucky to make 55k which is what a lot of residents make. Money isn’t the only factor but it is a factor.

I’m going to meet with a med school adviser on Tuesday and I feel bad because I’m losing my motivation. Is there a doctor specialty that allows the physician more hands on time? I thought PM&R but the more I read about it I found that they don’t carry out many treatments except for injections which disappointed me.

Thanks for reading this and offering any advice. I’m just getting pretty confused.


Sounds like you really enjoy manual therapy. That’s great! You know what you like, if you still have an interest in medicine, I suggest looking for a DO that has a practice with at least 50% OMT and shadowing them. Then you can get a taste of medicine combined with OMT that some DO NMM specialists do. That would probably help you answer definitively the DO or PT question. More money is always nice, but waking up every morning and doing something you love is better.

Thank you for the advice. I started feeling better after posting this and reminding myself of why I was excited about osteopathic medicine in the first place. After a quick Google search I found some physicians that seem to be practicing the way I envision practicing OMM. Thanks again!

As a current DO student you will find the gambit in practioners of OMT. There are docs who never do anything to ones who only do OMT, DO schools will teach you OMT and its up to you how you use it. One specialty that you might want to look at if you are find the PT field more your style is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. You have the PT aspect of practice with the ability to go in pharmaceutical direction, that I don’t think PTs can do.

Well $55k as a resident isn’t eternal. Your pay jumps dramatically after residency. One of the reasons that doc you shadowed didn’t spend too much time with each patient is because the more patients you see the more money you make. Don’t fall for the lie that FP docs barely make $150k.

If I were you, and already know you like the manual stuff, I would apply to DO school and then a OMM/PM&R (physical medicine & rehabilitation) residency. You’ll be a physician, employ PT’s, do all the manipulations you can do…and make more than $50k.