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Journey of a DPT Student

Buying Books for PT School

Published December 27, 2011 3:13 PM by Lauren Rosso

We just received our book list for the spring semester, and despite knowing that each of them will be a beneficial resource, I can't help but resent spending so much money on books. I'd like to say that I have done each and every suggested reading, but if I'm being honest, that's not the case. So as it stands, for the past two semesters I have spent a lot of money on books that I haven't really used. Granted, some of them have only been recommended, but when it comes down to it they've been a waste of money.

I keep telling myself that I'll always have the books as references, they're an investment worth making, and I should buy them. Now that I'm staring at another $600 bill, I just don't know if I can believe it anymore. I wonder how often PTs actually reference textbooks? I'm sure some are classics, but I have a feeling a lot of others end up collecting dust.

Am I a bad student? I feel really guilty that there is so much more information in each book that I could be studying, but at the same time, I have no idea how I would ever retain all of that information.



Since the price of books is so high, I found myself buying fewer and fewer books each semester of school.  I got the best advice from the class ahead of me- their opinions on which books they thought were important saved me a lot of money.  Also, I learned that I am much more likely to use a book as reference if I have at least opened it in the past.  Even though I focused on my professor's power point slides when studying for tests, I tried to scan through the required reading.  This way in the future when I need to reference something, I have an idea about the set up of the book and where to find things.

Also, if you can't decide whether or not to invest in a book, check it out at the library.  It's a free trial.

Dorothy April 24, 2012 3:31 PM
Greenville NC


It appears you have touched on a topic sensitive to many DPT students. Considering the amount of money we are already investing into are education, by way of tuition and other fees, being faced with book lists that cost hundreds of dollars is a tough pill to swallow. Especially when, like others have pointed out, we are given almost all the information needed via PowerPoint presentations. The cost to benefit of purchasing the "required" texts is marginal at best and in my opinion a poor investment. My solution has been to purchase prior additions or international copies. Both options usually allow me to buy the books I deem necessary at a fraction of the cost. As for them being a resource for the future, I find that unlikely given the limitless amount of information we can access on the internet. You are definitely not alone in this matter


Justin February 1, 2012 5:28 PM

I have also had feelings of guilt because I do not buy all of the textbooks recommended or optional books that are suggested by the teachers.  The rationale behind choosing which books to buy are based off of other students in the program who have taken the class or if I feel the content will be vital to my everyday practice (i.e. clinical anatomy, orthopedic assessment, etc.).  My first semester of PT school, I felt like I should buy every textbook to have as a reference, but when I do not use them all semester I feel like I have wasted money.  Everyone has good intentions of reading every chapter assigned, but in reality there is not enough time or mental capacity to read them all.  I have heard that our clinical rotations and the repetition you use in your specific workplace help you filter information that you will need on a daily basis.  Some textbooks may be useful for quick reference but some you will never reference back to.

Olivia January 25, 2012 10:57 AM

Lauren, I can definitely see where you are coming from with this post.  I am a first-year DPT student and I have found myself in the same situation when it comes to buying books vs. not buying books.  I always think in my head that I need to buy the books because the professors tell you to get them and say that you will need them as references, especially in the future.  However, in my experience most of the time I do not open the books that I do buy because now all of our lectures are on powerpoint and what that professor wants to teach instead of what comes from the book.  So I am always debating whether or not to buy the books because as a college student I do not have money to spend on these very expensive books, even though I know that they may be good resources.  I think this is a situation that all students find themselves in because books are so expensive and they typically just sit on my desk until I forget that I even have them.  So, it is always a tough decision to make but it is one that all students must make even if it does set us back financially.  Hopefully all the money we spend will be worth it in the long run.  Izzat Chaaban

Izzat C. January 24, 2012 10:54 PM

This blog is semi-therapeutic for me.  I'm happy to know I'm not the only one who can't decide what to do about this.

Noelle and Nathan-  Glad we're in the same boat.  I felt bad even eluding to the fact that I don't do all of the required readings.  But I totally agree- sometimes, it's impossible to do it all.  We'll get through it somehow!

May- you may be onto something with the "renting" idea.  I'm going to see if Pitt's library offers something like that.  Thanks for the tip!

Thank you to everyone for your input!  Hopefully these comments are as useful for you as they are for me.  

Lauren Rosso January 12, 2012 7:17 PM


Your post sounds really similar to my own dilemma when it comes to books for school.  I have to admit, I too do not always do the readings that are required by my professors but, I do use them for references when I get confused on a topic.  

I have worked in an outpatient clinic for a couple years with many different physical therapists and have noticed that many of them have kept their books from graduate school.  They have admitted that they might not have read them when they were in school or they read them and completely forgot what was in them.  Either way they now use these books for a quick reference when they get a patient they are unsure of or want some new treatment ideas.

If you are looking for some ways to trim some money from the very large book bill, I would consider using  I ordered all my books off of amazon this semester and ended up saving close to $250.00 on the entire bill.  They offer a program called amazon prime for students and during the first 8 months or so you can get free two day shipping on everything you order. That also helped me to save a considerable amount of money.  Hope this helped!


Jean January 12, 2012 5:13 PM
Greenville NC

Hi Lauren,

My name is Robyn and I am a first year DPT student. I too find it difficult sometimes when buying books. There are so many of the required books that I don't find myself using and felt this way during my undergraduate degree as well. Many of the professors cover all the information that will be covered on the test during lecture so I find myself only occasionally opening my books if I have a question or have a research paper to do. It is good to know that I am not the only student that feels this way. I just finished purchasing books for this semester and hope I made the correct choices.


Robyn Z, PT - Student January 12, 2012 3:48 PM
Greenville NC

hi Lauren,

Have you considered renting books? That's what i have been doing since I started last year to finish up my TDPT. If you feel like you want to keep the book you rented, you have an option to buy it. Renting period can go up to 120 days, it's way cheaper and the books they send to you are all new.


may monzon January 12, 2012 7:16 AM

Hey Lauren,

I read your blog and I must say, I am always happy to hear that I am not the only PT student who doesn't always do the required reading! Our professors are really good about outlining their powerpoints so many of the books are mainly for additional help if we need it. I find that the text books I can read and stay awake for over 30 minutes are keepers as they are likely the topics that I am more interested in. The other books will likely go back later.

Have you tried Amazon for books? Our books from the bookstore are priced around 450 for this particular semester and I ordered them all, NEW, on Amazon for 195 and change. There is a PRIME student account you are able to sign up for which gives you lots of options for free shipping. Check out that option next year! You can always buy used as well and sell your old books you don't think you will use on there as well.


Noelle January 11, 2012 10:13 PM


    I started a DPT program this past summer and the book prices, for each semester are staggering.  I too struggle with the thought of purchasing these very expensive text books. I know that I could never cover the amount of material needed to justify the purchase.  I prefer the powerpoints because our professors do such a great job in letting us know through their slides where we should be in covering the material.  With the book you are reading and reading, never knowing when enough is enough.  When the majority of the information we are tested on comes from the professor’s powerpoints, I am forced to continually lean further towards not purchasing the books.  I already feel like I spend so much time studying the slides, the thought of doing every assigned reading on top of that becomes an extremely daunting task in a full-load, graduate semester.  Thank you for posting on this issue.

Nathan W. January 10, 2012 8:10 PM


Which books you use the most will in part be determined by where you find your niche.  You may know that already, but you may surprise yourself and find your groove in a most unexpected specialty.  

Also, there are some books that you may use a lot when you are getting established that you find you don't need so much once you've mastered certain areas.

You may want to talk to the seniors in your program.  They should know which books were helpful and which ones were a waste of time.

As you are doing your clinicals, this will be a great topic to discuss

with the therapists and even ask to see their personal libraries.  The ones you see multiple therapists carry will be keepers.  The books they have with them at work will likely be the ones they use the most.  Although there were a few I kept at home to look at occasionally - a research book and an ethics book.

Jane Goude January 2, 2012 6:16 PM

Dean- which have you used the most post-graduation?  I'm interested to know which have been most handy.  Also, if you see this, I'd love to pick your brain about PT in the UK.  I'm trying to set up a clinical abroad this summer, but I'm not sure what avenues to take or where to look.

Jason-  I wonder if you can get PT books electronically?  It's DEFINITELY something I'm going to look in to.  Brilliant idea!

Lauren Rosso January 2, 2012 5:43 PM

So which books have been most valuable in the real world??   I have the same dilemma as a PTA student.    

Kim L, SPTA January 1, 2012 1:08 PM

Looking back, I wish I had a Kindle, Nook or other e-book device, books are cheaper and less to carry to class/clinical.  

Jason Marketti December 31, 2011 10:05 PM

A few become gold standards which we keep in gyms/offices and refer back to ourselves (or tell the new grad/student to look something up in). I have one brilliant text that is now tattered after one year in service at my falls clinic. My colleagues here in the UK have nothing like it.

You'll eventually figure out which ones are the "keepers" and which ones to sell back to the bookstore.

Dean Metz December 27, 2011 4:11 PM

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