Enhancing PT/PTA Professional Relationships through Intraprofessional Collaboration


Health care literature is replete with articles advocating for interprofessional education among health care disciplines. By comparison, intraprofessional education among physical therapy (PT) and physical therapist assistant (PTA) students has not received as much attention. The purpose of this educational experience between one PT and two PTA programs was to promote intraprofessional collaboration and foster increased understanding of delegation and scope of practice. Objectives of the two sessions were: 1) PTA students will identify the need for a PT reassessment due to a change of patient status. 2) PT and PTA students to understand each other’s role as it relates to manual therapy. 3) Provide a scenario, whereby the PT students were trained and standardized as patients, allowing them to assess the quality of care and communication between the PT/PTA team.


Two separate experiences between Marshall University School of Physical Therapy (MUSOPT) and Shawnee State University (SSU) and Mountwest Community & Technical College (MCTC) PTA programs were developed with second year PT and PTA students. PT students worked with students from each PTA program to achieve targeted educational objectives. After reviewing various APTA resources, the PT students and SSU PTA students were presented with a case in which they determined proper delegation associated with manual therapy. During the second session, the PT students and the MCTC PTA students were challenged with a patient case that focused on patient status change. The PT and PTA student’s had an opportunity to observe their peers and provide feedback. The PT and PTA students completed post-session surveys to determine how the interaction impacted their education and readiness for clinical practice.


Survey results revealed that 96.7% (SSU session) and 100% (MCTC session) of the students indicated that the respective programs should continue the collaboration. When asked how effective the experience was at improving their understanding of the scope of practice (SSU) and change in patient status (MCTC) students rated the experience 81.7 (13.9) and 88.2 (12.9), respectively, on a 100-point scale. When asked to rate their readiness for collaborative PT/PTA practice, the SSU students rated themselves as 84.9 (14.7) on a 100-point scale while the MCTC students rated themselves at 85.9 (10.7). A qualitative analysis of two open-ended questions revealed overlapping themes: a) Communication, b) Understanding scope of practice, c) Understanding State/Jurisdictional regulations.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education

Despite each program independently providing education on scope of practice and delegation, there is benefit to PT and PTA students working together during their didactic education. Students found value in this collaborative intraprofessional experience, supporting the intraprofessional pedagogical experience. The plan will be to follow this cohort as they enter full-time clinical internships to determine how CPI scores are impacted.


1. http://www.apta.org/PTPTATeamToolkit/
2. http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/Practice/DirectionSupervisionPTA.pdf
3. Direction and Supervision of the Physical Therapist Assistant HOD P06-05-18-26, APTA, 2012

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  • Control #: 2748885
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Brad Profitt, Neil Evans, Dr. Duane Davis, Gretchen Pfost, Travis Carlton, Kelly Terry, Ryan Walker
  • Keywords:

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