Debt and the DPT

While it is a topic that has plenty of anecdotal evidence, a study has now been conducted on the oftentimes crippling debt burden of physical therapists.

The small-scale study, which was authored by Steven Ambler, PT, DPT, MPH, PhD, surveyed members of the Florida Physical Therapy Association’s Early Professional Special Interest Group, all of whom were entry-level PTs practicing in Florida. The respondents, of which there were 86, answered questions relating to income, amount of debt held, and clinical practice choices. The study found that PTs who held a DPT most frequently reported debt ranging from $100,000 to $124,999, while the average salary of respondents was $69,328—a 197% debt to income ratio—and that PTs spend, on average, 22% of their monthly income on loan repayment.

The debt-to-income ratio identified by the study was more than double the estimated average ratio for family medicine physicians, who average a debt-to-income ratio of 80-90%, and also surpassed the average debt-to-income ratio for veterinarians, which is often estimated at 160-180%.

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