Future of the PTA Profession

ANAHEIM, CA — Today at CSM, in a lecture titled “Transforming the Role of the PTA to Meet the Vision of the Physical Therapy Profession,” speakers Jennifer Jewell, PT, DPT, Beverly Labosky, PTA, BA, Pamela Pologruto, PT, DPT, and Gina Tarud, PT, DPT, took a look at how the role of the PTA should meet the APTA’s new vision: transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.

The speakers noted that the profession should anticipate the future knowledge requirements of the PTA. They looked at the historical perspective of the occupation, including the evolution of the liensure exam and the change in requirements of the PTA.

They looked at the current role of the PTA, specifically on supervision, continuing education, and the overall scope of the PT practice.

On supervision, a surprising 68% of states had PTAs under general supervision – the lowest level of supervision offered to the PTA — while only 10% had direct on-site supervision.

On continuing education, statistics showed that 43 states required at least 8 hours of CEUs. They presented a number of advancement opportunities to PTA graduates, but an overwhelming number of PTAs did not know of the opportunities that were out there.

The speakers then took a look at PT/PTA perspectives and found that there were specific challenges facing the field:

  • Underutilization of the PTA (including the lack of education for the PT on the role of the PTA)
  • Insurance company regulations
  • State practice act regulations
  • Delegation
  • Lack of opportunities
  • Productivity standards

Finally, they took a look at the next step for the PTA profession. For example, they played with the idea of tiered degree programs, like that of the nursing programs (RN, BSN, MSN, etc.) and how that could be implemented. Another would be to advance continuing education and credentialing opportunities for the PTA.

The lecture ended with a fitting quote from Walt Disney: “Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long; we keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

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