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Physical Therapy Technician vs Surgical Technician

Physical Therapy Technician vs Surgical Technician

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When it comes to choosing a career in the healthcare industry, there are many options to consider. Two popular vocational training paths are becoming a Physical Therapy Technician or a Surgical Technician. Both of these careers offer rewarding work in the medical field, but they have distinct differences that may appeal to different individuals. In this blog post, we will explore the roles and responsibilities of each profession, the education and training required, as well as the career outlook and salary potential. By the end, you should have a better understanding of whether a career as a Physical Therapy Technician or a Surgical Technician is the right fit for you.

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What is a Physical Therapy Technician and Surgical Technician?

Before we dive into the differences between these two careers, let's take a closer look at what each profession entails:

Physical Therapy Technician

  • Physical Therapy Technicians, also known as Physical Therapy Aides or Physical Therapy Assistants, work under the supervision of Physical Therapists to provide support and assistance to patients during their therapy sessions.
  • They help patients perform exercises and stretches, assist with the setup and use of therapy equipment, and document patient progress.
  • Physical Therapy Technicians work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes.

Surgical Technician

  • Surgical Technicians, also known as Operating Room Technicians or Surgical Technologists, play a crucial role in the operating room.
  • They assist surgeons and nurses during surgical procedures by ensuring that the operating room is properly prepared, sterilizing and organizing surgical instruments, and passing instruments to the surgeon during the procedure.
  • Surgical Technicians must have a strong attention to detail and be able to work well under pressure.
  • They primarily work in hospitals, surgical centers, and outpatient clinics.

Difference between a Physical Therapy Technician and a Surgical Technician

While both Physical Therapy Technicians and Surgical Technicians work in the healthcare field and play important roles in patient care, there are several key differences between the two professions. Here are some of the main distinctions:

  • Job Duties: Physical Therapy Technicians primarily assist and support Physical Therapists in providing rehabilitation services to patients. They work with individuals who have suffered injuries or have chronic conditions, helping them regain mobility and improve their quality of life. On the other hand, Surgical Technicians assist surgeons and nurses in the operating room, ensuring that surgical procedures run smoothly and safely.
  • Patient Interaction: Physical Therapy Technicians have more direct and ongoing patient interaction compared to Surgical Technicians. They work closely with patients during therapy sessions, providing hands-on assistance and monitoring their progress. Surgical Technicians, on the other hand, have limited patient interaction, as their main focus is on assisting the surgical team during procedures.
  • Setting: Physical Therapy Technicians primarily work in outpatient clinics and rehabilitation centers, while Surgical Technicians work in operating rooms within hospitals or surgical centers.
  • Environment: Physical Therapy Technicians typically work in a more relaxed and low-stress environment, as they assist patients in their therapy sessions. Surgical Technicians, on the other hand, work in a fast-paced and high-pressure environment, as they are part of the surgical team and must be prepared for emergencies and unexpected situations.

Physical Therapy Technician vs Surgical Technician: Job Description

Now that we have a better understanding of the differences between these two professions, let's take a closer look at the job descriptions for both Physical Therapy Technicians and Surgical Technicians:

Physical Therapy Technician Job Description

  • Assist Physical Therapists in providing therapy services to patients.
  • Help patients perform exercises and stretches.
  • Set up and clean therapy equipment.
  • Document patient progress and report to the Physical Therapist.
  • Provide emotional support and encouragement to patients.

Surgical Technician Job Description

  • Prepare the operating room for surgical procedures.
  • Sterilize and organize surgical instruments.
  • Pass instruments to the surgeon during procedures.
  • Assist with patient positioning and draping.
  • Maintain a sterile environment in the operating room.
  • Anticipate the needs of the surgical team.

Physical Therapy Technician vs Surgical Technician: Education and Training

Both Physical Therapy Technicians and Surgical Technicians require specialized education and training. Here's a breakdown of the requirements for each profession:

Physical Therapy Technician Education and Training

  • Most Physical Therapy Technician programs are offered at vocational schools or community colleges.
  • The programs usually take around 1-2 years to complete.
  • Coursework typically includes anatomy and physiology, therapeutic exercises, medical terminology, and patient care skills.
  • Some states may require Physical Therapy Technicians to obtain certification or licensure.

Surgical Technician Education and Training

  • Surgical Technician programs are also offered at vocational schools and community colleges.
  • The programs generally take around 1-2 years to complete.
  • Coursework usually includes anatomy and physiology, surgical procedures, sterile techniques, and patient care skills.
  • Some states require Surgical Technicians to obtain certification.

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Physical Therapy Technician vs Surgical Technician: Career Outlook and Salary

When considering a career, it is important to also take into account the career outlook and earning potential. Here's a brief overview of the career outlook and salary for both Physical Therapy Technicians and Surgical Technicians:

Physical Therapy Technician Career Outlook and Salary

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of Physical Therapy Technicians is projected to grow 28% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage for Physical Therapy Technicians was $48,090 in May 2019, with the highest 10% earning more than $71,670.

Surgical Technician Career Outlook and Salary

  • The BLS projects that employment of Surgical Technologists will grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage for Surgical Technologists was $48,300 in May 2019, with the highest 10% earning more than $69,170.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a career as a Physical Therapy Technician or a Surgical Technician can be a rewarding path for those interested in the healthcare field. While both professions have similarities, they also have distinct differences in terms of job duties, patient interaction, and work environment. It's important to consider these factors, as well as the education and training required when deciding which path to pursue. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your personal interests, strengths, and career goals.

Dreambound extends its programs to diverse locations. Delve deeper into information about these two vocations by visiting:

Pia Yapjoco
Written by
Pia Yapjoco

Pia Yapjoco is part of the school growth and sales team at Dreambound. She helps facilitate school partnerships that expand educational opportunities for aspiring students in allied health and other trades. Beyond work, she curates her pup's Instagram, hunts for hidden coffee gems, and escapes into cozy gaming.

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