Effective teamwork between physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) is key to achieving optimal results with patients and clients. The parameters of the relationship are clearly defined by the APTA House of Delegates (see resources box on page 13). What is a PT to do when his or her PTA teammate violates the terms of direction and supervision?
Mike, an early-career PT, is excited to secure a position at Mountain View Rehabilitation Hospital, a highly regarded facility in upstate New York that specializes in treating individuals with head injuries and other neurological issues. There, he'll work with a complex patient population in an interprofessional, collaborative treatment environment. He'll also supervise a PTA for the first time. All of these elements, he believes, will make him a better and more versatile PT.
Initially, Mike shadows Lynn, who directs the physical therapy department. He's immediately struck by not only her dedication and professionalism, but also her teaching skills. In seemingly no time, she's given him the complete "lay of the land," walking him through everything from treatment tips to the ins and outs of the hospital's complex electronic documentation system. By the end of his first week at Mountain View, Mike tells his boss with an appreciative smile, "I already know who I must sweet talk until they've had their morning coffee and what ‘foods' are safest to order in the cafeteria." By the end of the second week, Mike feels ready to carry his own full caseload.