Greetings from the Flathead Valley Community College’s PTA program. This past February, Julie Robertson, ACCE and I ventured off to California to attend the Combined Sections Meeting in Anaheim. Anyone who has been to CSM knows that it has great energy, excitement and hype as part of its atmosphere. It is also a wonderful place to network with peers from around the country. Being a PTA educator, I was especially interested in a session titled: Transforming the Role of the PTA to Meet the Vision of the Physical Therapy Profession, presented by Jennifer Jewell, PT, DPT, Beverly Labosky, PTA, Gina Tarud, PT, DPT and Pamela Pologruto, PT, DPT from Penn State University.
They analyzed survey data from around the country from both approximately 50% each of PTA’s and PT’s, both APTA and non-APTA members. They sought data regarding: educational requirements for the PTA, work analysis for the PTA, scope of practice issues amongst states, CE requirements for the PTA, career advancement opportunities for the PTA, workplace and academic education on the PT/PTA relationship, and job satisfaction of the PTA, to name a few. I won’t go into each item but I encourage those of you who work with and educate PTA’s to keep a look out for this article in the next few months. I will however, provide a bit more depth of the topic of the PTA education.
The role of the PTA has evolved since the career began in 1967. Next year will be the 50th birthday of the first PTA class in the US…Happy Early Birthday PTA’s! The skill level and knowledge demands of the PTA have progressed with the advancement of the DPT degree, but the timeframes for PTA education have confined PTA educators to try and pack in as much information as they can in a short amount of time to meet the knowledge expectations of our profession as a whole. This can be a challenge both for the student and the educators. Personally thus far, I have found the high caliber students that we have had at FVCC, has minimized this obstacle for me as an educator. Most students have come in with a strong work ethic, entry level knowledge and experience that have made meeting the demands of PTA education a quite rewarding experience.
That being said, there are notable issues that will need to be addressed in the near future pertaining to PTA’s and PTA education. Here in Montana, I see a need to continue to educate on the value of the PTA and their role in the patient care continuum. Nationally, prominent issues are: strengthening the PT/PTA model to meet the changing healthcare needs, developing career paths to allow advancement of the PTA and reinforce the lifelong learning and passion for the field of physical therapy, continuing to assess the PTA education model to ensure our current model is meeting the needs of all stakeholders, and most importantly remembering that the most vital stakeholder in all of this are the patients we serve.
Please remember to email, call or stop on by FVCC with any feedback that you may have about the utilization of PTA’s in your area or PTA education.