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PTA Blog Talk

Choose Wisely

Published March 24, 2010 4:26 PM by Jason Marketti
For the PTAs, choose your PT wisely. 

In some cases we may not have a choice, but if you do, interview the PT about experience in working with a PTA, their take on patient care, how progressive they like to be and what they look for in a working relationship with a PTA. 

If the PT is honest and doesn't want to just fill a slot opening, they will acknowledge and answer your concerns then ask you similar questions. Patient care should be mutual in what needs to be accomplished in a reasonable time frame. If expectations are high from the PT, the PTA should rethink the position before accepting. It's not that the PTA could not handle the position, it's that the mutual respect would disappear and resentment would replace it. 

Wages can entice and keep you in one spot but that is only one factor among many that the PTA should look for. The first on my list is flexibility (within reason) in my schedule. If an employer will not be flexible, I will find a more family friendly place to work. 

Other things for PTAs to look for in a PT, and for that matter a good employer:

  • A mentor. I'm still looking after 14 years in the field.
  • Honesty, trust, hope and prosperity. This should be a given but it isn't.
  • Free CEU's. My current employer offers them through their Website.
  • Greater participation in decision making. This includes discharges, patient selection, equipment purchases, screening patients and attending meetings.
  • Space. Does the gym feel inviting and could you see yourself working there alongside the PT?
  • Learning opportunities. Will the PT take time to listen to suggestions and learn from you?
posted by Jason Marketti


In an ideal world, you could pick the supervising PT and know the person is informed, in compliance, and knowledgeable of the states ‘practice act for PTs and PTA. This is not always the case. In my experience, if a good PT or PTA makes a mistake, they will take responsibility and learn from the mistake. I worked with a PT from Texas who asked me to upgrade goals (NC allows a PTA to make minor upgrades to existing goals for the next logical step within the treatment plan), but later she said my upgrade of a patient from,” gait training 75’ with RW Min A” to, “gait train 100’with RW CGA” wasn’t truly an upgrade and she said CGA wasn’t real and told me I couldn’t use CGA or document CGA. She also claimed Medicare didn’t care how far a patient could walk. Has anyone else in the world ever believed Contact Guard Assistance isn’t real? Then she wanted me to perform screens which in NC a PTA cannot do (which I wouldn't perform). Then, she made out like my treatments were basic, when in fact her treatments were basic and always looked the same for every patient with no patient specific treatments. Example: She told me to perform PNF with a certain patient, but when I asked her,” Do you want UE or LE with D1 or D2 for flexion or extension and what is the purpose and goal?” She admitted to me she didn't know which was which and just wanted documentation to demonstrate the wording. Then, she stated, “You can do whatever, but be sure to document that you used PNF.” That is just a few examples of Gina's mistakes and burdens she imposed on me. My experience with her and the company we were both working for at the time was a horror story! Guess who got fired, me.  A really good PT or PTA can explain what they are doing and why the treatment is performed with that particular patient. (Thanks for teaching your students this concept Martha Z. PT, Director of CCC&TI PTA program). I've met some really good PTs and PTAs in my 2 years out. I love treating patients and advocating for them because they are truly all that matters. Please learn from my mistake, and always write a rebuttal statement on a write up if you don’t agree, and don’t make the mistake I made of being passive to try and keep a job with a company who passes the buck and doesn’t care about right and wrong. I am a traveler now and I love it. I am appreciated and given the opportunity to shine.  I work hard to help my patient’s progress, but when they don’t I’m not going to fudge on the documentation because that will never help a patient. I’m still learning as should all of us, and I’m willing to share my knowledge with others. That is true team work! Do your best, even when no one is looking!

Sharon, Geriatrics - PTA;C.S.S.T., Traveler May 12, 2010 2:19 AM
Lenoir NC

As a PTA with 3 years experience, I have learned that the PT that I work with can be the most frustrating or rewarding part of the job.  To me, this dynamic can make or break what is considered a good employer.  

I would also add that you get a clear understanding of your role in the clinic.  Some PTs treat PTAs like mindless techs that don't have any clinical background what so ever.  You want to work with someone that knows that you have a degree and you are a lisenced clinician.

Michael, Ortho - PTA April 1, 2010 12:23 PM

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About this Blog

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