What’s the Difference Between a Doctor, Physician, and Physician Assistant?

Those interested in medical work know the distinctions between doctors, physicians, and PAs. While these jobs are centered on case management and providing medical treatment to patients, their practice has significant differences. Understanding the distinctions between the professions can help streamline your physician recruitment process.  

Let’s look at the differences between doctors, physicians, and physician assistants. 

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Doctor vs. Physician: What’s the Difference?

From a linguistic point of view, the terms “doctor” and “physician” are often used interchangeably, but there are slight differences. “Doctor” is a broader term that refers to individuals with advanced degrees or expertise in various fields. It can include professions like medicine, law, theology, and more. 

In contrast, “physician” specifically refers to a medical professional who has completed the necessary education and training to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses. While all physicians are doctors, not all doctors are physicians. 

Physicians focus on patient care, have the authority to prescribe medication, and perform medical procedures, while the term “doctor” encompasses a wider range of disciplines beyond medicine. 

Physician Assistant vs. Physician

The role of a physician assistant (PA) is to support and augment the work of physicians, helping to improve patient access to healthcare and overall patient care outcomes. They work in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices, and can specialize in specific areas of medicine, such as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, or surgery.

Below are a few other distinctions to recognize: 

Duties and Responsibilities

Physicians can diagnose their patients with various medical conditions. They can also perform diagnostic tests and assessments on their patients to figure out what’s causing their symptoms.   

Physician assistants help the physicians deal with illness and disease diagnosis and assessment. They may perform physical examinations on patients and keep track of their medical history. They can help establish a treatment plan for their patients once they have determined the reason for their symptoms. 

Educational Background

A bachelor’s and medical degree are required for physicians, as well as a medical internship and residency. Their medical degree allows them to improve the health of their patients.    

A bachelor’s degree, a physician assistant certification, and a year of medical training give hands-on experience are all required for physician assistants. With their education, physician assistants can order testing, execute procedures, and develop patient treatment regimens.

Development of Career

Physicians and physician assistants can specialize and gain extra certifications through training. Both vocations necessitate the completion of continued education to practice medicine.

Working Environment

Physician assistants typically have higher job satisfaction and work fewer hours than physicians, even though both can operate in fast-paced situations. They cannot work alone, but only under the physician or as part of a team who will handle emergencies or cater to specific patient care.   

Because of their higher education and the role’s broad repute, physicians may have more excellent employment prospects. They can work alone in their clinic or be a part of a team in a hospital.

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Are You Looking for a Reliable Physician Recruitment Agency?

Now that you know the difference between doctors, physicians, and physician assistants, it’s time to choose your career path. If you need help applying for a stable job, our team at Arthur Marshall can help improve your employment options. Call us now to get started on your career!

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