DPT Clinical Experience: Teaching in a PTA Curriculum.


The 2016 CAPTE standards and elements (1) as well as the 2004 Normative Model of Physical Therapist Professional Education (2) require that entry level Physical Therapist programs prepare DPT students to work as a team with, supervise and direct the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA). Our School developed a clinical education rotation where DPT students teach in a PTA program. The purpose was to enhance the understanding between PTA and DPT students regarding each group’s education, and ability to partner in the clinical environment.


Methods. Our DPT students' final clinical experience is a 12-week internship, designed to allow the student to choose area(s) of personal interest. Since 2012, 10 students have taught at 4 different PTA programs. The DPT students spent 6 weeks participating in all activities associated with the PTA program. These included preparing instructional materials, presenting lectures and labs, writing exams and videotaping labs and participating in clinical education-related activities The DPT students attended staff meetings related to all aspects of community college life including budgeting, recruitment and retention. Data Collection. A document was created to assess the DPT students related to: 1) Professionalism, 2) Communication, 3) Teaching Methods and Styles and 4) Ability to Assess the PTA Students’ Performance. In addition, one-on-one conferences are completed by the DCE with each DPT student and with one or more PTA faculty members.


Results. In all cases, students and PTA faculty expressed positive assessments. The DPT students stated that this opportunity enhanced their understanding of the challenges faced by many PTA students. The DPT students also noted a significant increase in their understanding of the curriculum content and the knowledge level of the PTA students, and this greater understanding would lead to an enhanced ability to work as a team in the clinical environment. The PTA faculty stated that the DPT students enhanced the didactic aspect of the PTA curriculum with evidence-based information and practices that they were learning in the DPT curriculum. The PTA students cited ease in approaching the DPT students, especially given the closer ranges of age and experience levels between the PTA students and the DPT students.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

Conclusions. The clinical education internship in teaching is an effective method of sharing insight and enhancing communication and understanding among DPT and PTA students. This experience is a beneficial addition for future DPT curricula. Greater DPT and PTA student interaction during classroom and clinical education, will lead to improved understanding and enhanced utilization. Such enhanced understanding may lead to an improvement in the ability to collaborate and work as a team in the clinical setting, thus improving overall communication, and ultimately, patient care.


1.CAPTE Accreditation Handbook: http://www.capteonline.org/AccreditationHandbook/. Accessed March 16, 2015

2.A Normative Model of Physical Therapist Professional Education: Version 2004. American Physical Therapy Association, Alexandria VA.

3.Clynch H. The Role of the Physical Therapist Assistant: Regulations and Responsibilities. FA Davis Co, New York, 2011

4.Crosier J. The PT/PTA relationship: 4 thongs of know. Perspectives, Feb 2011, 14-17

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2253368
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Peggy Gleeson
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results