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PTA Blog Talk

Relinquish the Patients

Published March 2, 2011 9:48 PM by Jason Marketti

Being a PTA has given me excellent experience and is a great career for anyone who wants to be part of the health care system. The downfall is working with PTs who do not want to give up "their" patients to an assistant despite the new evaluations that come in and the additional demands on their time. I often volunteer to see additional patients so they can see new people or reassess ones that need updating of goals.

Then there are state rules that may prohibit PTAs from seeing certain patients in the ICU of a hospital but allow new grad PTs complete access to a patient's care. This poses a dilemma where a patient receives care from an experienced PTA or a new grad DPT. I understand the argument for both sides but for me experience trumps degree status.

It may be that a PT wants to keep a tight reign on a patient's progress and since that PT is ultimately responsible for the patient's care he takes on the additional work. But it doesn't have to be that way. The assistant's role is to assist the PT in the delivery of care and report necessary changes that occur. Perhaps the old trust issue is the reason some PTs do not relinquish control of a patient into the care of an assistant. Or perhaps the new grads do not completely understand what we, as PTAs, do.

The basic premise it that the PTA should allow the PT to have more time with thorough evaluations, thus better treatment outcomes via goals in patient care. If there is one message PTs can take from a PTA, it is that we assist them in the delivery of therapy services for patients under their care. We do not want to control the direction of care but we do want the patient to get better. And patients will as long as we continue to work as a team.


Whatever your job title is now, perhaps you could go back to school and earn your DPT degree (as your fellow PT's have) so you can then see the patients right away to ease the delay of direct 1-1 care. Otherwise in your new position, you can make sure the scheduling allows for the patients to be evaluated as deemed necessary ASAP so the PTA's can then step up and in.

Jeanne April 12, 2011 8:37 PM

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About this Blog

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