Besides the obvious differences in educational requirements, etc. what is the difference in a physiatrist and a physical therapist? It seems that they perform many of the same duties although I assume since a physiatrist is an MD he/she can order and interpret imaging and prescribe meds. It seems that one of the major pushes for the DPT is to be a primary clinical care practitioner but isn't that basically what a physiatrist is? I am trying to decide between PT and med school and have a definite interest in physical medicine and rehab and was just curious about my options. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Joined: June 25, 1999
From: Somerdale, NJ USA
Without getting into a tirrade, a simple answer is this. Any time a professional is not partaking in the daily rehab of patients and is doing nothing more than, so-called "overseeing", they are going to be at a disadvantage as to what a patient needs. What a patient needs is always up for debate, however, who is more likely to come to the more likely conclusions as to what constitutes the best treatment regimen, a professional who spends anywhere from 30 to 180+ minutes with patient's anywhere from 2 to 5 days per week or someone who checks in with a patient periodically? Clearly, the PT is in a more advantageous position to best prescribe a treatment regimen and clearly they are more apt to develope practical skills. If the physiatrist actually performed PT activities on a daily basis, then certainly they could develop the clinical evaluative and treatment skills a PT does, but how many do you know who do this? While Physiatrist seem to have more time to spend with patient's than most MD's, they still cannot spend the one-on-one time with patient's as PT's can. As a patient, which would you feel most comfortable with directing your treatment plan?