Student Post

Working While In Physical Therapy School

Michelle Stauffer, SPT Class of 2017
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Undergraduate: Northern Arizona University
Degree: Exercise Science. Minor: Chemistry and Health Wellness Coaching

I work as a waitress roughly 25 hours a week (3-4 shifts) outside of being a full-time PT student. Seem crazy? I agree. Do many recommend doing this? No, definitely not; however it works well for me.


Since I was 15 I have always worked one if not two jobs while going to school. I got my job immediately after moving to Colorado (and a kitten, hello overload), prior to the start of my first semester of school. I decided to get a job to maintain a consistent schedule in order to stay on task. Without a job I would have weekends free making it easier for me to be unproductive with school work. For the first few semesters I started out with fewer hours (ranging from 10-15), but as I gained a better understanding of time management I slowly increased my hours.


I love having a job that enables me to get away from the stress PT school creates. At work I worry about catering to my customers rather than remembering hand placement for an inferior shoulder mobilization. Plus, as a waitress I can interact with my community and feel more connected (the friends I have made through serving I wouldn’t trade for the world). My job gives me an added purpose to be here in Denver. I also meet great people outside of school who can inform me about all Denver has to offer (sweet hole-in-the-wall restaurants, where to go hiking, CONNECTIONS, etc.). In addition, waitressing provides a passive income for me that is interest free! It is a personal goal of mine to borrow the least amount of student loans while in school and one way I do this is by working. As I mentioned earlier I got a kitten upon my arrival in this great city and she has not been cheap. Unexpected vet bills can be paid for through work rather than adjusting how I budget dispersed student loan money.

Recommend it?

If you never worked a job unrelated to your field of study while attending school I would not recommend getting a job that doesn’t pertain to PT. Many of my classmates work as caregivers working less than 10hrs a week and they really enjoy it. Personally, I would recommend completing your first semester (maybe even 2nd semester) before getting a job so you can create a foundation for your life during graduate school. When you feel ready to start working start slow with minimal hours and see how you do as you can always increase from there.

If you want to ask me more questions about having a job during physical therapy school I am more than willing to talk with you. You can contact me via email: