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Is it better to become a physical therapist or a physical therpist assistant?

#physical-therapist #healthcare

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Beth’s Answer

A physical therapist has a graduate degree (usually 6-7years of college). They are responsible for assessing what is wrong with the patient and creating a plan to help while also coordinating with the doctor, insurance, family, employer, and most importantly the injured person. The PT is responsible for billing and medical records so there is a lot of paperwork.

The physical therapist assistant follows the plan established by the physical therapist. They have more hands on patient care and less paperwork and less responsibility in the clinic. The PTA has 2 -3 years of school.

The salary for the PT is greater than the PTA but there is a lot more school too.

In the current work environment there is a push to frequently reassess and discharge clients. Since the PTA cannot reassess and discharge most of the PTA jobs are in longer term care settings like nursing homes, home health and maintenance programs.

PT jobs are in demand and have a wide variety of settings -hospitals, private clinics, in home care, research, schools, athletics, nursing homes, and more.

Both PT and PTA college programs are very competitive. They will require a high GPA, good test scores, some do interviews. It is a good idea to have some volunteer or work experience in the field to be sure you like it, and this is usually required in the application phase.

The PTA degree is not part of the PT program. Do not think you will get your PTA then apply to PT school and have extra credits. It doesn’t work like that. There are a couple “bridge “ programs out there but not many. If you want your PT, jump in to get it, don’t use PTA as a step. Good luck! It’s a great profession.

Beth recommends the following next steps:

Google PT or PTA programs in your area. There are a limited number of schools which offer PT and each of their prerequisites are different.
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Zach’s Answer

When looking at an education standpoint, PTA's only need an 2 year associate's degree while PT's need 6-7 years of college. PTA's work under PT plan of care and make less money than PT's. PT's develop the plan of care for a patient and are able to work in a variety of settings where as PTA's are more limited. Both Careers I great to pursue and have a high demand in the workforce.
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Donna’s Answer

I would refer you to the American Physical Therapy Association website (apta.com) where you can learn the differences in educational requirements and scope of work of each of those options. Also, if you could talk with a PT dept director with both types of positions in that dept and find out what differences exist and which seems more appealing to you. Good luck!
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Jason’s Answer

I would say becoming a Physical Therapist is better than being an assistant, as you will be making much more. However the road getting there may not be as easy as the road to being an assistant, so you will need to evaluate your financial situation and educational opportunities to determine if you should pursue one or the other
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