The Safety Net You Need to Build Before PT School Graduation

By Dr. R. Brandon Smith PT, DPT, MPH

Let’s say you’re in your last semester of PT school, congratulations, you’re almost there!

Have you thought about how much money you need when the semester ends and your loans stop coming in?  Have you thought about what to do during your student loan grace period?

This is a topic I personally believe more schools need to address and prepare students for.

If you have worked with FitBUX, you will know one of the first things they advise is building a safety net/emergency fund. It should usually consist of more than three months rent/mortgage payment, utilities, food, and any unforeseen expenses that may come up.

On top of this – Do you know how much your NPTE is going to cost? How much is you jurisprudence (law) exam going to cost? How much you are going to spend on NPTE test prep?

For instance, licensing alone will set you back around $1,000+ with all fees and test prep materials.

Another variable to keep in mind: Are you taking the NPTE early or late? I highly recommend taking the NPTE as early as you can – as each month not spent working can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars lost in potential pay not only that year but over your lifetime.

Other factors to consider is who do you rely on for financial support? Your family, loans, etc… I personally only have myself to rely on – and I am not the only DPT who has ever been in this situation or the last – I had heard stories from practicing DPTs before I graduated of how they had to sleep on friends couches after earning their doctorate due to their school/state forcing them to take the exam later or just poor planning. Do you want to be the next couch surfing Doctor of Physical Therapy? I didn’t think so which this is why I recommend that you start planning now.

Look where you can cut expenses – and don’t forget to factor in gas – while working 40 hours a week in the clinic, hospital, whatever setting you’re at, for free AND paying your school tuition….

But in all seriousness, plan for the worst – hope for the best – and here is a quick checklist to help:

  1. 3 Months Rent/Mortgage
  2. Emergency Expenses
  3. Staples – Gas, Food, Household Items Used Daily
  4. NPTE PREP and Associated Licensing Fees
  5. Moving Expenses if moving to a new city
  6. Bills that must be paid to get a job e.g. Phone, Internet
  7. Figure out if there is anyone you can turn to – in case you don’t have these things – you may have to couch surf a bit – and that may be okay, it’s very much a personal choice
  8. Anything else you absolutely need during this time feel free to add if it was not covered above.

 

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