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Medical Administrative Assistant vs Physical Therapy Technician

Medical Administrative Assistant vs Physical Therapy Technician

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Key Points:

  • Medical Administrative Assistants handle office tasks; Physical Therapy Technicians provide hands-on support to patients.
  • Medical Administrative Assistants typically earn a lower wage than Physical Therapy Technicians.
  • Both fields have good job prospects.
  • Medical Administrative Assistants often complete online or in-person programs, whereas Physical Therapy Technicians require in-person training.
  • Medical Administrative Assistant training is generally less expensive and shorter than Physical Therapy Technician programs.

When it comes to choosing a career in the medical field, there are a multitude of options to consider. Two popular choices are becoming a Medical Administrative Assistant or a Physical Therapy Technician. While both positions involve working in a healthcare setting, they have distinct differences in terms of job responsibilities, education and training requirements, as well as career outlook and salary potential. In this blog post, we will explore these differences to help you make an informed decision about which path may be right for you.

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What is a Medical Administrative Assistant and Physical Therapy Technician?

Medical Administrative Assistant:

A Medical Administrative Assistant, also known as a Medical Secretary or Medical Office Assistant, plays a crucial role in the smooth operation of a medical office or healthcare facility. They are responsible for handling administrative tasks and providing support to medical staff, ensuring that the office runs efficiently and patients receive proper care. Some common job duties of a Medical Administrative Assistant include:

  • Scheduling appointments for patients
  • Managing patient records and medical documentation
  • Handling insurance claims and billing processes
  • Greeting and assisting patients upon arrival
  • Answering phone calls and addressing inquiries
  • Coordinating with other healthcare professionals and departments

Physical Therapy Technician:

A Physical Therapy Technician, on the other hand, works directly with physical therapists to assist in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients with injuries or medical conditions. They typically work in physical therapy clinics, hospitals, or rehabilitation centers. Some key responsibilities of a Physical Therapy Technician include:

  • Assisting patients with exercises and therapeutic activities
  • Preparing treatment areas and equipment for therapy sessions
  • Monitoring patients' progress and reporting to the physical therapist
  • Educating patients on proper techniques and exercises
  • Administering modalities, such as heat or electrical stimulation, under the guidance of a physical therapist
  • Maintaining cleanliness and organization of the therapy area

Difference between a Medical Administrative Assistant and Physical Therapy Technician

While both Medical Administrative Assistants and Physical Therapy Technicians work in healthcare settings, there are several differences between the two roles. These differences include job responsibilities, required skills, and the types of patients they work with. Here are some key distinctions:

Job Responsibilities:

  • Medical Administrative Assistant: Focuses on administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and handling insurance claims.
  • Physical Therapy Technician: Works directly with patients, assisting them with exercises and therapeutic activities, and maintaining treatment areas.

Required Skills:

  • Medical Administrative Assistant: Strong organizational and communication skills, attention to detail, knowledge of medical terminology, and proficiency in office software systems.
  • Physical Therapy Technician: Physical fitness, manual dexterity, empathy, good communication skills, and knowledge of physical therapy techniques and equipment.

Types of Patients:

  • Medical Administrative Assistant: Interacts with a wide range of patients, as they handle administrative tasks for various healthcare departments or specialties.
  • Physical Therapy Technician: Primarily works with patients who require physical therapy, such as individuals recovering from surgeries or injuries.

Medical Administrative Assistant vs Physical Therapy Technician: Job Description

Medical Administrative Assistant:

As mentioned earlier, the primary job duties of a Medical Administrative Assistant revolve around office administration and patient support. They are responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of a medical office or healthcare facility. Some specific job tasks include:

  • Scheduling appointments for patients and coordinating with healthcare providers
  • Managing patient records, including updating personal information and medical history
  • Handling insurance claims and billing processes, ensuring accurate and timely submissions
  • Greeting and assisting patients upon arrival, answering phone calls, and addressing inquiries
  • Coordinating with other healthcare professionals and departments to facilitate patient care

Physical Therapy Technician:

The main role of a Physical Therapy Technician is to provide hands-on assistance to physical therapists during treatment sessions. They work directly with patients, helping them with exercises and therapeutic activities. Some typical job responsibilities of a Physical Therapy Technician include:

  • Assisting patients in performing exercises and therapeutic activities, under the guidance of a physical therapist
  • Preparing treatment areas and equipment for therapy sessions
  • Monitoring patients' progress and reporting any changes or concerns to the physical therapist
  • Educating patients on proper techniques and exercises to improve their condition
  • Administering modalities, such as heat or electrical stimulation, as directed by the physical therapist
  • Maintaining cleanliness and organization of the therapy area

Medical Administrative Assistant vs Physical Therapy Technician: Education and Training

Medical Administrative Assistant:

To become a Medical Administrative Assistant, you typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed a post-secondary program in medical office administration or a related field. These programs can be completed in as little as a few months and provide training in medical terminology, office procedures, and computer skills. Additionally, some Medical Administrative Assistants may choose to pursue certification through organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Physical Therapy Technician:

Becoming a Physical Therapy Technician usually requires the completion of a post-secondary certificate or associate's degree program in physical therapy assisting. These programs typically take around two years to complete and include both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience. Coursework may cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, therapeutic exercises, and patient care. It is important to note that some states may require licensure or certification for Physical Therapy Technicians, which may involve passing a licensing exam or meeting specific education and experience requirements.

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Medical Administrative Assistant vs Physical Therapy Technician: Career Outlook and Salary

Medical Administrative Assistant:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for Medical Secretaries (which includes Medical Administrative Assistants) is projected to grow 10 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing demand for healthcare services, coupled with the need for administrative support in medical offices, is expected to drive this growth. As of May 2020, the median annual wage for Medical Secretaries was $37,330, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $52,000.

Physical Therapy Technician:

The job outlook for Physical Therapy Technicians is also positive, with the BLS projecting a 26 percent growth rate from 2019 to 2029. This rapid growth is primarily due to the aging population and the increasing need for physical therapy services. As of May 2020, the median annual wage for Physical Therapy Technicians was $48,090, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $60,000.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a career as a Medical Administrative Assistant or a Physical Therapy Technician ultimately depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. If you enjoy administrative tasks and prefer a behind-the-scenes role in a healthcare setting, becoming a Medical Administrative Assistant may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you have a passion for working directly with patients, assisting in their physical therapy, and helping them on their road to recovery, a career as a Physical Therapy Technician may be a better fit.

Regardless of which path you choose, both careers offer opportunities for growth and job stability. The healthcare industry continues to expand, creating a demand for skilled professionals in various roles. Take the time to research and explore each career option further, consider your personal strengths and interests, and make an informed decision that aligns with your goals.

Discover Dreambound's program accessibility across various locations. For detailed insights into the two vocations, their requirements, and joining procedures, explore the following blogs:

Harold Roldan
Written by
Harold Roldan

Harold Roldan is a Growth team member at Dreambound. With a background in IT, he works with data and automation to improve team efficiency and workflows. He spends his free time playing musical instruments or studying data, computers, and technology.

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