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Supervision requirements for physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and physical therapy students (both physical therapist and PTA students) depend on such factors as the policies of individual payers and insurers, state practice act provisions, and the setting in which physical therapy is being provided. Let’s simplify this situation by looking at some key issues.

Levels of Supervision

It is the responsibility of the physical therapist (PT) alone to evaluate and assess patients, develop a plan of care, and oversee provision of services. PTAs and physical therapy students play important roles in carrying out the plan of care, however. Supervision rules are meant to ensure that patients and clients always are receiving the safest and most effective care. Depending on the setting, practitioner, and applicable state laws, 1 of 3 types of supervision will apply to PTs and the PTAs and students they supervise.

General. This is the least restrictive type of supervision. It requires only that the PT be available for direction and supervision by telephone or another form of telecommunication during the procedure in question; the PT need not be onsite.

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