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PTA Blog Talk

“I’m not a nurse!”

Published April 1, 2009 6:57 PM by Jason Marketti
This phrase comes up way too often in nursing facility therapy departments. 

If a patient needs an assessment on blood pressure, oxygen saturation, pulse rate, respirations, etc., therapists often divert to nurses.  WHY?

The therapy community is trying hard for direct access, yet will consult a nurse if a patient needs their blood pressure taken.  I say do the assessment yourself and continue to show what our profession is made of. 

Tasks such as changing an oxygen tank take less than one minute, yet I have seen PTs and PTAs ask nursing assistants to get a new tank.  The nursing staff is just as busy as us and if we are constantly relying on them so we can continue our duties of care, we are doing the patients and our profession a disservice.

In our continuum of care, the patient comes first.  If this is true, we should strive to learn a new skill and revive old ones that directly impact a patient.  Everyone in health care should know how to take vital signs and ask about pain.  Taking a patient to the bathroom is a concern for a lot of therapists, yet is it unreasonable to ask a patient to walk 10 feet and sit down?  A pull of the call light will direct nursing staff in the right direction and then walk the patient back to their chair for 10 feet and sit down again.  Co-treating with the OT staff may make this easier in that it becomes a more functional activity for the patient.

And remember, everyone within ear shot will know you are not a nurse and I am sure everyone will realize you are a therapist when you don't know how to take vital signs and change an oxygen tank.   

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About this Blog


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