Not too long after I started teaching Anatomy &Physiology lab at a local college, one of the tenured professors asked me if I was considering getting a doctorate and teaching full-time at a college.
“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “It’s a lot of time and money to get a doctorate. And I have too many other things I want to do.” He understood.
A few months ago I was on a Saturday day trip with my father. My mother was out of town for the day and he was going stir-crazy. He decided to take a mini-road trip and asked if I wanted to join him. Though I had plenty of anatomy to prepare, I opted for the adventure. A little was out of sympathy, but another reason was just for the sheer “being a kid again” factor. Just me and dad. On a road trip. On our way to our destination (a newly remodeled Dairy Queen my father, owner of two such stores, wanted to take a look at), we stopped and looked at things for sale on the side of the country roads on which we were traveling. I was marveling to my father that his driving wasn’t really getting to me like it usually does. I can’t recall how the topic changed to teaching.
“You really like it, don’t you?” Dad said. I confirmed that I did, was enjoying it very much in fact. “It’s a great place to work,” he said. “College isn’t like the real world.” Dad says this a lot. By “real world” he means that the professors aren’t punching a clock like office drones. They can make their own schedules to a point and get all those holidays and time off . Dad, as an entrepreneur, doesn’t punch a clock either. He, too, can make his own schedule to a point. But he doesn’t have paid time off and someone else paying his health insurance.
I was saying how many different things a professor could get involved with on a campus. There’s the teaching, but then you can advise a student group or be on committees. And your work changes. But before dad got thinking I might have found something I’d do “forever” (he still harbors dreams of that), I said, “but I’d need a doctorate to do all that…and that’s way too much time and money.”
Then something clicked. My alma mater offers doctorates in Physical Therapy. A clinical doctorate. Not a PhD. But a doctorate all the same. In other words, it’s more hands-on clinical research and less sitting in a library writing a dissertation. And I recall reading that they had a “transitional” program for those of us that already had a Masters degree in PT. I said perhaps I should look into that. But would it be the craziest idea ever to get a doctorate in a field I pretty much abandoned from the moment I graduated? Just so I could teach? I’d have to think about this. But I did mention it to dad. He’s been trained to not get too excited about any one of my ideas because a lot of them are only ideas and never get pursued. He doesn’t always remember this training, but thankfully this time he did. “Yeah, you should look into that,” he said, his voice indicating a wee bit of excitement but much more subdued than in past years.
Upon our return, I hopped on the internet and was shocked to see that the DPT only requires 16 credits – four classes. Not only that, but three of the four actually interested me! And you could do the entire program on-line! I also learned that it cost a whole lot less than I thought it would. This couldn’t be right, I thought. So I looked at other schools who had these transitional doctorate programs. And they were all pretty much the same – in terms of credits, on-line coursework, and cost. Whereas I thought my research would show me the degree would take forever to get and cost more than it would be worth for me, I found I was wrong. Hmph. Who knew.