Dr. Richard M. Jorgensen, a physical therapist and a professor at the University of Minnesota, says, “Physically, physical therapists are a subset of doctors. But, they’re not a subset of all doctors. There are some very, very, very strong, well-respected, high-powered doctors. Physical therapists are more of a specialist, so to speak. So, you would have people that are board-certified, doctors who are not board-certified, but who work with physical therapists and they would be referred to as physical therapists.”
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes a physical therapist a doctor, and what makes a doctor a physical therapist.
What is the difference between a physical therapist and a doctor?
According to Jorgensen, the difference between a physical therapist and a doctor is that physical therapists are specialized in a particular field, while a doctor is not.
“A doctor is a general practitioner,” he says. “A physical therapist is a specialist. A physical therapist can only specialize when they’ve taken a course that allows them to specialize in a particular field.
Dr. Jorgensen says, “I think the only difference is that a doctor can prescribe medicine, but a physical therapist cannot. A physician can be on a panel of doctors, but a physical therapist can’t. A physician can order lab tests, but a physical therapist can’t. A physician can perform a surgery, but a physical therapist cannot. A physician can give a diagnosis and a physical therapist cannot. A physician can prescribe a treatment, but a physical therapist cannot.”
What’s the difference between a doctor and a physical therapist?
Doctors are more focused on the physical body. They treat the physical body, whereas physical therapists focus on the emotional body.
A doctor can treat an injury or condition in the physical body, such as a shoulder impingement, but a physical therapist can’t.
A doctor can treat an injury in the emotional body, such as anxiety, but a physical therapist can only treat mental health conditions, such as depression.
So, what is a doctor?
A doctor is a physician. A physician is a doctor who is licensed to practice medicine in every state.
According to the American Medical Association, a doctor is defined as “a medical practitioner who is licensed to practice medicine in every state and the District of Columbia.”
What is a physical therapist?
A physical therapist is a person who has completed a doctoral degree in a physical therapy field, typically a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.
According to the Association for Applied Physiology, a physical therapist must be licensed by the state to practice. Physical therapists complete a one-year post-graduate program that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
A physical therapist can be a physician or a doctor.
A physician is defined as “a medical practitioner, that is, a physician, surgeon, dentist, or optometrist, who provides medical diagnosis and treatment, and who has been licensed to practice medicine in every state and the District of Columbia.”
Physical therapists are not included in this definition.
A doctor is a general practitioner, not a physical therapist.
A physical therapist is not a physician, so they don’t perform surgeries, prescribe medications, or perform diagnostic tests.
The American Physical Therapy Association states that physical therapists are “physicians who have completed a doctoral degree in a physical therapy field and are licensed to practice physical therapy in the state where they are licensed.”
The Canadian Physical Therapy Association says that physical therapists are “physicians and dentists who have completed a doctoral degree in physical therapy and have a license to practice physical therapy in Canada.”
When should you see a doctor?
If you’re sick or injured and you’re not sure which doctor you should see, it might help to think about the people you trust.
If you’re with a friend or family member, it’s important to call the doctor first, especially if you’re in pain.
“I would say that for a lot of people, it’s best to see a doctor before a physical therapist because they’re in a better position to help with something that’s not going to be life-threatening,” says Jorgensen.
“But, if you’re in the hospital and you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to see a physical therapist first because they’re often better at treating pain and they’re better at working with a team in order to improve the quality of a patient’s life,” says Jorgensen.
If you’re alone, it’s important to call a doctor right away, especially if you don’t have a primary care physician.
If you have a condition that requires surgery, call your doctor first.
If you have a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
If you have an emergency and don’t have a doctor, you can reach out to friends or family members for help.
“You can call 911. If you’re not sure who to call, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” says Jorgensen.
“You can also call your doctor’s office, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry about it.”
If you need to go to the emergency room, it’s best to do so with someone who knows you well.
“If you’re not sure who to call, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” says Jorgensen. “You can call 911, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
If you think you need to be admitted to a hospital for a few days, call your doctor or hospital first.
If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately.
How to find the right doctor?
When looking for a doctor, it’s important to know who you can trust.
“If you’re sick and you need someone to evaluate you, it’s best to call your primary care physician,” says Jorgensen, “but if you’re in distress and you think you need to be seen by a doctor, it’s best to call your primary care physician.”
It’s also important to ask your doctor if seeing another doctor is an option.
If you’re sick and you need to be evaluated by a doctor, it’s best to call your primary care physician.
Images by Freepik
Generated by AI