Physician Assistant Or Physical Therapist, Which Career Is Better?

Opting for a career in the medical industry comes with a lot of responsibility, especially since all the choices involve delicate human life and preservation.

So this article will focus on the differences between Physician assistants and Physical Therapists to make the final much easier for you.

Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the details.

Physician Assistant (PA) or Physical Therapist (PT), Which Is the Better Career?

In short, becoming a Physical Therapist (PT) is a better career choice for students than Physician Assistant (PA) as it offers more flexibility, independence, and job opportunities.

However, both careers are equally important in the healthcare industry, even though they revolve around totally different practices.

However, the answer to this question lies within your skills, interests, and a general inclination towards one of the two due to personal preference.

Of course, you also want to choose a career with an elevated market scope that provides you with the right opportunities to keep moving forward in the corporate world.

To have a clearer view, let’s discuss both career choices in detail.

What Is A Physician Assistant?

A Physician Assistant, or PA, is an important cog in hospital and clinical practices tasked with taking care of incoming patients.

PA often works directly under the supervision of an established medical professional such as a Surgeon or a Head Doctor.

Their job duties can involve taking care of daily matters at the clinic/hospital if the in-charge doctor is unavailable.

A PA typically fulfills the following tasks:

• Documenting and evaluating the patient’s history

• Run a routine patient checkup

• Identifying and prescribing necessary medical tests to patients

• Diagnosing an issue with a patient

• Provide full treatment in case of damaged body parts until recovery.

• Communication with the patient’s family to advise, recommend diet, and more.

• Prescribing drugs

• Recording and analyzing patient’s information and progress

• Staying up to date with the newest health trends

• Participate in the many wellness programs for the betterment of the community

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What Is A Physical Therapist?

On the other hand, a Physical Therapist, or PT, is a healthcare professional that helps people fight abnormalities in their body and advise exercise or methods to make them more mobile and functional. Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy is good for people with shaky bones and joints, especially in old age.

A PT typically fulfills the following tasks:

• Looking over a patient’s medical history, including the many referrals, medical tests, and notes that accompany it

• Identifying physical problems through diagnostic procedures, especially how a patient walks, moves, etc.

• Put forward tailored plans for patients to help them in their time of need.

• Advising exercises, therapeutic practices, and pain-relief tips facilitate the recovery process while avoiding further injury or pain.

• Running an analysis on the current plan for a patient, improving it if possible

• Informing the patient and their families about the right physical therapy practices and how to follow them effectively

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What’s The Difference?

Both fields revolve around the concept of taking care of human life and are very similar to the general goal of the practice; to provide medical help to people in need.

However, the primary difference lies within their working methods.

A PA can never become an independent entity as they work directly under the supervision of a licensed doctor.

Contrarily, PTs can and often operate as autonomous practitioners, hence being their boss in most cases.

Becoming A Physician Assistant Easier Or Harder Than Becoming A Physical Therapist?

Becoming a Physician Assistant is equally as challenging as becoming a Physical Therapist with a similar amount of time, effort, and expense to become qualified. 

If you’re an ambitious student, you may be wondering which one of the two career choices is relatively easier than the other.

Do both of them require you to fight tooth and nail in a cutthroat market, or does any of it come easy?

To become a physiotherapist or a physical therapist, you must have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited institution.

This three-year program starts after your Bachelor’s degree and mainly compromises intricate medical subjects such as neuroscience, biomechanics, etc.

DPT students also have clinical duties; hence they continuously increase their exposure to orthopaedic care.

After completing DPT, PA’s transition to a clinical residency program that lasts for a year.

From here, you can choose which specialization you want to do by conducting the right research and keeping in mind your interests.

If you’re interested in becoming a physician assistant, then the path to becoming one involves a master’s degree from an accredited program.

This program is typically two years long, and graduates often have medical experience as nurses or paramedics, helping them get on board with the process.

Physician Assistants usually study the mainstream medical subjects in their master’s program while also receiving the necessary clinical training to refine their practices.

It is important to note that physician assistants must complete 100 hours of ongoing education every two years.

You should have a general idea of both careers by now, and keeping in mind all the details, you can evaluate which one would be more comfortable for you.

To make this choice much easier, ensure that you genuinely weigh your interests and critically examine your skills.

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Physician Assistant Or Physical Therapist, Who Earns More?

When it comes to who makes the most buck for the job, Physician Assistants take the crown.

According to recent statistics, the average salary of a Physician Assistant is $115,390 per year (this number could be more or less too, depending on the region and the hospital’s reputation). Physical Therapists do not lag far behind and manage to make $91,010 per year on average.

Yes, PAs earn relatively more than PTs, but at the cost of limited freedom or growth opportunities.

It is up to you to decide which scenario aligns perfectly with your long-term goals.

Final Thoughts

Whether you become a Physician Assistant or a Physical Therapist, you’ll be helping the many people in need of medical help, a rewarding profession for the heart. All you have to do is weigh out the metrics mentioned in this article and choose the career that would ideally move you forward.

If you feel like being under the direct supervision of an established medical professional will be good for you, then opt for a PA career.

If you want more independence and autonomous daily activities, go for a PT degree.

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