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PTA Blog Talk

Being a CI

Published June 24, 2008 4:46 PM by Jason Marketti

It's a challenge to take on one or two students, but it is worth the time and effort knowing that some knowledge was passed along to others who will also share that knowledge in their career.  I enjoy the time I spend with students and I like the questions they ask.  The best thing is that when I can't answer the question I could say, "That's a great question, why don't you look that up and let me know what you find."

But I don't say it. I could, but that would not be fair to the student. I hardly ever quiz them on anatomy (Where is the articularis genus muscle and what is its function to the structure it affects?) I would rather question their clinical judgment to situations in patient care. I figure they get all the book work and A and P stuff in school.

I've had them practice their hand placements in the ICU with comatose patients to allow them to get a better idea on how to stand at the bedside and what to look for and feel for at end ranges at different joints. I've gone on field trips with them to stroke centers and assisted living places to allow them to get to know the resources in the area they will be working in. 

I bring them into meetings and let them listen in to the phone calls that are made-the tedious stuff that we do-to allow them to see what it really is like. Sure it would be easy to show them the facility and within a week let them see patients while I kick back and answer their questions but they would not really be learning what its like to be a PTA.

I encourage them to speak to the social workers in the facilities and if they feel comfortable with it they can discuss treatment with the MD if appropriate. I've known some PTAs who were treated like aides during clinicals.  If that happens, it's time to find another place to be for four to six weeks. 

I also figure it is better for a PTA to be the CI for a student PTA because the student can actually see what we do. The student can learn when to defer treatment to the PT and get a better idea about scope of practice. Who better to learn from than a seasoned professional in the same job?

Some places may not allow the PTAs to be CIs and that is ridiculous. How can a student PTA learn to do a job effectively if they are not trained by peers? How will they know when to take the initiative and when to discuss patient care with the PT prior to treatment? Doctors train doctors, nurses train nurses and PTAs need to train PTAs.


How do you coordinate the student with the supervision required by medicare in a skilled nursing facillity?  I had to give up being a  CI because the PT is not in direct line of site with the student and treatment provided by the student could not be counted in the MDS minutes.  Help!!  I really enjoyed the students as I learned as much from them as they learned from me.

deb , PTA July 10, 2008 3:51 PM

I, too, recently had a student.  One of the bisggest challenges I faced with my student was that I shared her with another PTA.  Yes, we basically have same philosophy on most matters we do differ in what should be stressed as far as her ability.  This was her first affiliation and luckliy she was very prepared because she had a background as an ATC.  If she required more attention I think I would have run into some major issues as far as I interacted with the other PTA.  Initially I was much more organized and proficient in providing the proper instruction.  I was so overwhelmed by the amount of work.  All in all, though, I thoroughly enjoyed my expereince in the end.  I think I really love to teach.  

Michelle Heath, PT - PTA/CMT, Braintree rehab June 30, 2008 6:56 PM
Braintree MA

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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