Reining Me In
The PTA reports to the PT who is responsible for the patient. I get it.
I discussed my role with a PT friend of mine recently and asked her about how much leeway she gives the assistants who work with her. She told me even though she is friendly with them, she also likes to watch what they are doing to ensure patient safety and compliance to the plan of care. She also said she would make corrections immediately if they were doing something unsafe.
So I asked her if she ever allows a PTA to make a mistake to teach a lesson. "Yes" and "No" was the reply. "If it would not endanger patient safety it may teach a lesson in not going beyond what you know and should do." She went on to say, "I would rather do a quick correction than allow the PTA to get stuck in a position they should not even be in."
I asked another PT friend about the PTAs he works with. "I let them do their thing and I trust their judgment in patient care." He went on to tell me about one PTA who would not follow the plan and always thought the patient should do other things instead of what is on the POC. "So I had a sit down with him and explained our roles in the rehab department and the chain of command. It didn't sit well with him, but I think he understood what he was supposed to do after that."
As leaders in the health care field, the PTs should have the confidence in the PTAs ability to make wise choices and follow the plan of care. Perhaps guidance and direction is needed more often than not. With the proper guidance, the PT and PTA will flourish (did I really use that word?) and with proper direction the relationship will fully develop into something that both can be proud of.