Medical Doctor Vs Physical Therapist: What’s The Difference?

Can’t decide whether to see a medical doctor or a physical therapist? “Therapy” is a confusing word. When it comes to our mind, first we feel confused. Medical doctors and physical therapists are both healthcare professionals. They both help patients improve their physical well-being. However, there are some key differences between these two professions.

Medical doctors are licensed physicians. They have earned a medical degree from an accredited school. On the other hand, the therapist has earned a degree in physical therapy from an accredited institution.

In this context, I’m going to discuss the key difference between a medical doctor and vs physical therapist. After reading this content, you can decide whether you should see a doctor or a therapist. Let’s get started.

Who are Medical Doctors and Physical Therapists?

Medical doctors are physicians who diagnose and treat diseases and injuries. On the other hand, physical therapists help patients regain movement and function after an injury or illness. This is a basic difference between the two professionals.


Extra information about Medical doctors

Medical doctors are licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery. They must complete 4 years of medical school. In addition, they must have to complete a 3-7 year residency program. After completing their training, medical doctors can choose to specialize in a particular area of medicine.

For example, Medical doctors may choose to become a cardiologist, anesthesiologists, or plastic surgeons.

Extra information about Physical Therapists

Physical therapists must have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Moreover, they must complete a clinical internship. Some states require physical therapists to be licensed. They can specialize in areas. Such as sports medicine, geriatrics, or pediatrics.

The Major Difference Between Medical Doctors & Physical Therapists

You almost know the basic difference between these two professionals, right? It’s time to know the key difference. It helps to decide fast. Most of the time, we feel confused. Don’t worry, we are here to assist you. Let’s see some key differences:

1) Prescription

The first visual difference is in prescription. Medical Doctors can write prescriptions. On the other hand, a Physical Therapist can not write prescriptions.

Some doctors write a lot of prescriptions for patients. It’s up to the patient whether he/she wants to take it or not. If you are thinking that all doctors are like that, then you are wrong. Some doctors rarely prescribe medications.

2) Salary Scale

The second difference is in salary. Medical Doctors usually earn more than Physical Therapists. It’s because they have to study for a longer time. They have to complete their residency program. On the other hand, a Physical Therapist has to complete a master’s degree.

3) Job Description

A Medical Doctor’s job is to diagnose and treat patients. He/she also has to manage the medical team. A Physical Therapist’s job is to help patients recover from injuries. He/she also has to prevent injuries from happening.

4) Schedule

Another major difference is in the schedule. A Medical Doctor’s schedule is usually very hectic. They have to work long hours. Usually, a therapist has a more flexible schedule. You can get an appointment with a therapist at your convenient time.

5) Treatment

Medical Doctors usually treat patients with medications. A therapist uses different techniques to treat patients. These techniques include exercises, massages, and electrical stimulation.

So, these are the major differences between the two professionals. Now you can easily decide which one is better for you.

Is a Physical Therapist a Doctor?

Simply Yes. Physical therapists are doctors. But you can’t call them doctors. Moreover, they can’t write prescriptions for you. Generally, we call them PTs.

There is a myth about physical therapists that they are not real doctors. But the truth is, they are highly educated & professionals. They earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy. I can’t deny that they have some limitations.  But overall, their services are exceptional.

Here are some limitations of PTs:

  • Can’t prescribe medications.
  • They can’t perform surgery.
  • They can’t order diagnostic tests like MRI, CT scan,

If you consider these points, you can understand that PTs are not entirely like medical doctors. But they are eligible to treat patients. Moreover, they can help them to recover from wounds.

How Many Years To Become A Physical Therapist?

In general, 3-5 years are pretty enough to become a therapist. The first year or two are spent acquiring the necessary degree. They have to complete an undergraduate degree and prerequisites. Physical therapists have to follow a professional doctoral program. This program lasts about 3 years.

“If any of these timeframes are shortened the total time will be reduced. However, this is not recommended.”

It may result in a lower quality of education and training. It is better to spend the necessary time to get a good education. This will make sure that you are prepared for your new career.

Some institutions stated that 2 years is enough. Mostly, private institutions are the ones who stated this. They offer an accelerated degree for those who want to get their degree in a shorter amount of time. But, it is not recommended.

Final word

The controversy never really ends. At the end of the day, it really all boils down. If you feel like your therapist is not helping you, get a second opinion. After all, it is your body and you have the right to choose what’s best for you.

It will be best if you consult your regular physician. Then you can make a decision. He or she will be able to give you the best professional advice. Don’t get too hurry. It’s the result that matters, not the time it takes to achieve it.

So, guys, now we reached the last part of the content. If you facing any problems then you can share them with use by email. You can also comment below the post. Thank you.

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