Physician Assistant Vs Physical Therapist: Differences, Similarities

This post contains detailed information on the differences and similarities between a physician assistant vs physical therapist: differences & similarities.

Physician Assistant Vs Physical Therapist: Differences, Similarities
Physician Assistant Vs Physical Therapist: Differences, Similarities

When it comes to choosing a career in the healthcare field, it is always quite difficult especially when the careers have to do with helping and saving lives. This is why different healthcare fields like Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist are compared. 

Though there’s not much of a difference between a Physician Assistant Vs Physical Therapist. one is actually more preferred to the other. Also, These two careers are involved in a range of other medical procedures, hence the reason you are but to know the difference between Physician Assistant Vs Physical Therapist, its differences, similarities, and some other important details about PA vs PT.

Before we continue, you’ll get an overview of who a physician assistant is, who a physical therapist is, the differences, Job/Duties, education licensing / certification, workplace, and Job outlook.

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Physician Assistant Vs Physical Therapist(PA vs PT )

Who is a Physician Assistant(PA)?

A Physician Assistant is a mid-level medical practitioner who works under the supervision of a licensed doctor (an MD) or osteopathic physician (a DO). They are integral members of the health care team in many hospitals and clinical practices.

Provided he has been well trained and knows how to discharge his duties appropriately, a PA does not need to perform his duties only when the supervising physician is around 

What Is Physical Therapist(PT)?

Physical therapists are a paramedical profession that uses force and mechanical movement (biomechanics or kinesiology), electrotherapy, manual therapy, exercise therapy, to solve deficiencies and enhance mobility and function.

They are movement experts who improve quality of life through patient education, prescribed exercise, and hands-on care.

Physical therapy tries to improve the impairment itself by increasing aligning bones and joints, mobility, or lessening pain.

What Are The Difference Between Physician Assistant And Physical Therapist(PA and PT )?

Both Physician Assistants and Physical Therapists provide opportunities for patient care but the major difference between both is that a PA will never be a truly autonomous practitioner, while a PT can if he/she so chooses. PA is very limited in terms of employment opportunities as compared with PT.

Job/Duties

Education

Licensing / Certification

Work Place

Job Outlook

Pay

#1 Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist – Job/Duties

Physician assistants (PAs) may work under the supervision of physicians or surgeons and they examine patients, prescribe medicine, and order diagnostic tests. In most cases, they.

But they can work more independently in rural areas, some states, and inner-city areas, consulting with physicians only when they need help with cases.

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Duties Of A Physician Assistant(PA)

Below are the duties of a PA

  • Interview and examine patients to determine a diagnosis.
  • Order tests to ascertain the nature and extent of illnesses and injuries.
  • Prescribe medications and suggest lifestyle changes to remedy medical problems. 
  • Stitch wounds and set bones.
  • Administer immunizations.
  • Maintain patient records and provide documentation for insurance companies.

On the other hand, a physical therapist’s goal is to get patients back in motion with massage, exercises, and other techniques. They also work essentially with people recovering from injuries. 

The focus of physical therapy is on preventing injuries and helping people avoid surgery or long-term reliance on medications.

Duties Of Physical Therapists

Below are the duties of a physical therapist

  • Diagnosing physical problems restricting movement because of an illness or injury.
  • Using exercises and other techniques to ease pain and boost mobility and muscle strength.
  • Developing fitness and wellness programs aimed at preventing injuries and encouraging a more active lifestyle.

#2 Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist – Education

Most physician assistants need a 2-3 years master’s degree before they can practice.

Those who want to go higher in their career may decide to pursue a doctoral degree and this takes between two and three years.

This is mostly important for those that are through with their bachelor’s degree.

Meanwhile, earning a master’s degree is necessary and physical therapists hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which usually takes three years to complete. A typical master’s degree in a physical therapy program takes about two years.

Most importantly, have in mind that both the master’s programs and DPT require an undergraduate degree.

#3. Physician Assistant(PA) vs Physical Therapist(PT) – Licensing/Certification

Physician assistant licensing laws vary by state but common requirements include passing a national certification exam, graduating from an accredited physician assistant program, and meeting fieldwork requirements/completing your training from the approved program.

While, for Physical therapy, you must be licensed as a physical therapist. So, you have to be a graduate of an accredited physical therapy school before you sit for the National Physical Therapist Examination.

#4 Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist – Workplace

Basically, physician assistant work in the hospital, but there are other places they can work such as;

  • Group medical practices
  • Colleges
  • Government agencies. 
  • Rural health care facilities
  • Phone triage centers
  • Retail clinics
  • Community health clinics
  • Surgery centers
  • Urgent care centers

While physical therapy happens in a PT’s office, a physical therapist can work in:

  • Fitness centers
  • Outpatient clinics or offices
  • Home health agencies
  • Schools

#5 Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist – Job Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,  from 2018 to 2028, the employment of physician assistants is expected to expand by 31%.

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So, factors impacting this growth are the efforts to limit the costs of delivering medical services performed by doctors and the increased demand for medical services from an aging population and.

Still, in the report, from 2018 to 2028, the employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 22 percent. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. 

This demand for physical therapy is expected to come from aging baby boomers, though only staying active later in life are susceptible to health conditions, such as strokes, that may require physical therapy.

Furthermore, physical therapists will be needed to treat people with mobility issues or chronic conditions, such as obesity or diabetes.

#6 Physician Assistant vs Physical Therapist – Pay/Salary

According to payscale.com, the average salary of a physician assistant is $96,561.

Also, BLS reports that physical therapists earn  $43.00 per hour and $89,440 per year.

What Are The Similarities Between Physician Assistant(PA) And Physical Therapist(PT)?

Despite the differences that may exist between these two, physician assistants (PA) and physical therapists (PT) are quite similar in some ways.

The similarities between a PA and a PT are 

  • They are both important members of the allied health professions.
  • Both the PAs and PTs work in clinics, medical centers, hospitals, and so on.
  • Both physician assistants and Physical therapy educate people on how to prevent and avoid injuries, improve their overall functioning, quality of life, and knowledge about how to maintain your health and well-being.
  • PAs and PTs participate directly in educating patients, patient care, and working toward positive patient outcomes.

What Are The Best Schools For Physician Assistant(PA)?

Below is a list of the best universities that offer physician assistant(PA) programs. Click on each of the schools for information on their PA programs.

  • University of Utah
  • George Washington University
  • Wake Forest University
  • Interservice Physician Assistant Program
  • Drexel University
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • The University of Colorado
  • University of Southern California
  • Jefferson College of Health Sciences
  • Oregon Health and Sciences University
  • Emory University
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • University of Iowa
  • Duke University
  • Kettering College

Which Schools Are The Best For Physical Therapy(PT) In The USA?

Below is a list of some of the schools that offer the best physical therapy(PT) programs in the USA. Click on each of them for more information on the program.

  • University of Delaware
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • The University of Southern California
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Emory University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Iowa
  • MGH Institute of Health Professions
  • U.S. Army-Baylor University
  • Duke University
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Which Is Best Between Becoming Physician Assistant(PA) AND Physical Therapist(PT)?

Generally, Physician Assistants and Physical Therapists are unique and distinct from each other. However, knowing what to pursue depends on your choice,  individual, and career goals.

If you really want to work in the medical field and want to help lessen people’s pain, you can go for PT. If you can’t dedicate a lot of years nor invest a lot of money into studying, then you can become a PA. 

In addition, you can compare the salaries of the two allied health professions and go for the higher one if you want to do your job and also earn more.

CONCLUSION

Both physician assistants and physical therapists are allied health professionals that treat similar conditions and are involved in a range of other medical procedures. Yet, they have their differences.

Nevertheless, both types of careers one needs depends on one’s specific condition and individual needs.

In addition, as someone who wants to pursue a career in the healthcare field, knowing your individual goals and career will help you decide which is better for you between the PA and PT.

Physician Assistant Vs Physical Therapist FAQS

What is a Physician Assistant(PA)?

A physician assistant (PA) is a mid-level medical practitioner who works under the supervision of a licensed doctor (an MD) or osteopathic physician (a DO).

What is a Physical Therapist(PT)?

Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.

Who makes more money as a physician assistant or physical therapist?

According to payscale.com, the average salary of a physician assistant is $96,561.

Also, BLS reports that physical therapists earn $43.00 per hour, that is, $89,440 per year. 

What are the similarities between a physician assistant and physical therapy?

#1. The major similarity between a PA and a PT is that they are both important members of the allied health professions.

#2. Both the PAs and PTs work in medical centers, hospitals, clinics, and so on.

#3. PAs and PTs participate directly in patient care and work toward positive patient outcomes.

#4. They educate patient

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