Physician Assistant vs. Physical Therapist: Salary & Differences

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Which is the best physician assistant vs. physical therapist? Yet another controversial topic in the field of Medicine. These two are distinct career options, but both belong to the Medical field.

Several times, I have received many questions concerning these two options. People have asked about what it takes to study and start practicing them, how long it takes for education and training, which has a better salary, and which is better overall. This is only to mention a few of the questions I have entertained.

If you also have any of these questions, I will answer them thoroughly in this article. This piece can be of use to anyone, most especially to students who aspire to join the Healthcare world.

You will be exposed to why these career options have become a topic of argument and the major differences between them, just in case you want to go for one but do not know which.

The difference between a Physician Assistant and a Physical Therapist is clear but might be hard to see. One requires the supervision of higher and licensed medical personnel to work. At the same time, the other can perform major medical practices independently without needing any form of supervision or go-ahead.

As we go forward in this article, you will understand the differences and similarities between these two career options.

Who is a Physician Assistant?

A physician assistant can perform so many operations in a clinical setting. Also known as PA, a Physician Assistant is a healthcare professional with the jurisdiction to order tests, diagnose illnesses, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and sometimes serve as a principal healthcare provider.

Medical assistant with doctor

Contrary to the thoughts of many, a Physician Assistant is also a professional and not necessarily a subordinate to a senior. Without a physician, a PA can handle a healthcare facility.

In most States, Physician Assistants are required to have a collaboration agreement with a licensed Physician. However, PAs must be certified by the certifying bodies in their regions. This gives them the right to work as a professional.

Unlike a Medical degree, the time required to complete Physician Assistant training is less. This is why a Medical degree holder is needed as a supervisor sometimes.

Who is a Physical Therapist?

physical therapist at work

A Physical Therapist is popularly known as a Physiotherapist in many regions. A physical therapist is responsible for providing healthcare through physiotherapy sessions.

This process helps promote, maintain, or restore health through Physical examination, diagnosis, prognosis, patient education, physical intervention, rehabilitation, disease prevention, etc. The responsibilities of a Physical therapist are quite many.

In addition to clinical practice, other aspects of physical therapist practice include research, education, consultation, and health administration. Physical therapy is provided as a primary care treatment or alongside or in conjunction with other medical services. Physical therapists can prescribe medication in some jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom.

PA vs. PT: The Differences

As a physician assistant or associate, there is a limit to what you can do in a HealthCare facility. However, there are still several operations you can get involved in. These include;

  • Conducting Patient Interviews/Consultations
  • Taking Medical histories of patients
  • Conducting Physical examinations
  • Arrangement and interpretation of medical tests and examinations
  • Illness and disease diagnosis
  • Develop a treatment and medication plan
  • Taking part in medical procedures
  • Prescribe medications to patients
  • Provide counseling to patients
  • Offer assistance in surgery
  • Provide advice on preventive healthcare.

Sometimes, not all illnesses can be healed with medications. And sometimes, medications will not increase the rate of healing. This is why Physical therapy was introduced into Medicine. It is a way of treating human body disorders without a drug. Physical Therapists are responsible for managing illnesses and diseases relating to the following;

  • Musculoskeletal system (bones and muscles)
  • Neurological systems (brain)
  • Cardiopulmonary system (heart and lungs)
  • Integumentary system (skin)

In addition, Physical Therapy is organized regularly for as long as possible. On every therapy date, the therapist has a lot of things to do. They include;

  • Diagnosing patient condition and observation while standing, walking, and performing tasks
  • Documenting the progress in the health of a patient
  • Listening to the concerns of the patient
  • Developing an individualized care plan built around their observations of your condition, the goals you want to achieve, and your expected outcomes
  • Assisting patients in using supportive devices like crutches, canes, etc
  • Developing and executing plans to discharge a patient from therapy at the most appropriate time

PA vs. PT Salary in 2024

Happy medical practitioners

Physician assistants are well paid but not as high as main Physicians. However, the pay is quite okay if you are garnering experience in the medical line.

Physician Assistants receive an average of $120,212/year, excluding other grants and benefits.

According to Statistics, it is shown that Physical Therapists receive an average amount of $96,695/year. This is less than the amount Physician Assistants earn annually.

Physician assistant vs. Physical therapist: Which is better?

As a Physical Therapist, ensuring all patients are admitted is unnecessary. Most times, treatment and therapy are conducted at the patient’s home.

If the condition needs frequent medical attention, the patient might need to be admitted. Sometimes, physical therapists have Assistants known as Physical Therapists’ Assistants.

It is clear that though there is little similarity between these two career options, the difference between them is quite wide. So that you know, no career is better than the other. Both are very relevant to the medical profession and should always be available.

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1 thought on “Physician Assistant vs. Physical Therapist: Salary & Differences”

  1. Umm. Seriously, this post have given me an incentive to improve my knowledge and study hard in order to see, i have become someone better in life.


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