Facilitating development of the intraprofessional relationship: Intentional collaboration and communication between physical therapy and physical therapist assistant students in a student-run clinic.


Providing authentic experiences to practice communication and collaboration allows for deeper understanding of the professional roles and responsibilities of both PT and PTA, thus the clinical environment is ideal for developing intraprofessional relationships between students. The purpose of this project is to describe the effective facilitation and development of intraprofessional relationships for PT and PTA students in a student run clinic.


DPT and PTA students participate in integrated clinical experiences together for multiple semesters at two associated clinical sites. In previous years, faculty have noted frustration between students who did not recognize the important role of communication and collaboration between clinicians for providing excellent patient care. Recently, a more structured approach has been applied to facilitate collaboration of students in the clinic. Prior to the start of clinic, the DPT students complete the APTA online learning center course “Leading the team- A practical guide to working with PTA” to define and clarify the roles and responsibilities of both professions in the clinic environment. Additionally, both PT and PTA students are introduced to the APTA’s PTA direction and supervision algorithms. During orientation to the clinic, a structured, intraprofessional activity is performed in teams of multiple SPT and SPTA using the algorithms and intraprofessional discussion regarding patient client management. During the integrated clinical experience, students are encouraged to interact in multiple manners including participation in a team huddle before the start of clinic each day, performance of supervisory visits consistent with state law, and collaborating in co-treatments as applicable. Additionally, students are encouraged to perform follow-up discussions regarding patient care and to read and review each others’ documentation in an electronic medical record. An online survey was distributed to first, second, and third year students in both PT and PTA programs regarding their perceptions of the activities promoting the integrated clinical intraprofessional experience.


Faculty observed improved communication and collaboration between students with the inclusion of activities focused on intraprofessional collaboration. Students provided valuable feedback to faculty to guide additional intraprofessional activities in the student clinic. The results of the survey indicate that an objective measurement of the student intraprofessional relationship should be developed.

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

The student run clinic provides excellent opportunities for professional development in a non-traditional but authentic manner. Additionally, providing structured opportunities for communication between students results in stronger development of intraprofessional relationships, leading to effective patient care. It is imperative that development of intentional intraprofessional relationships be fostered for students in all clinical environments.


Jelley W, Larocque N, and Borghese M. (2013). Perceptions on the essential competencies for intraprofessional practice. Physiotherapy Canada 65(2); pp. 148 - 51. doi: 10.3138/ptc.2012-02. Jung B, Salvatori P, and Martin A. (2008). Intraprofessional fieldwork education: Occupational therapy and occupational therapist assistant students learning together. Revue Canadienne D’Ergotherapie 75(1): pp. 42 - 50. Mathews J, Smith S, Hussey J, and Plack MM. (2010). Investigations of the preferred PT-PTA relationship in a 2:2 clinical education model. Journal of Physical Therapy Education 24(3): pp. 50-61. Plack MM, Williams S, Miller D, Malik F, Sniffen J, McKenna R, and Gilner G. (2006). Collaboration between physical therapists and physical therapist assistants: Fostering the development of the preferred relationship within a classroom setting. Journal of Physical Therapy Education 20(1): pp. 3-11. Pollard KC, Miers ME, and Rickaby C. (2012). “Oh, why didn’t I take more notice?” Professionals’ views and perceptions of pre-qualifying preparation for interprofessional working in practice. Journal of Interprofessional Care 26: pp. 355 - 361. doi:10.3109/13561820.2012.689785. PT CPI. retrieved from http://cpi2.amsapps.com/docs/PT_final_revision_11-30-2010.pdf on April 10, 2015. PTA CPI. retrieved from http://cpi2.amsapps.com/docs/FINAL_PTA_CPI%20.pdf on April 10, 2015.

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  • Control #: 2269168
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Samantha Mohn-Johnsen, Dalerie Lieberz, Jane Worley
  • Keywords:

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