Definition of Key Elements of Preferred Physical Therapist-Physical Therapist Assistant Working Relationships: Knowledge to Inform Academic and Clinical Education

Name of Award

Spring 2019 APDC Grant

Date Awarded



Physical Therapist Assistant

Project Description

Jessica Scholl, Assistant Professor in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program, and Debra Sellheim, Professor of Physical Therapy, received a $7,230 APDC Grant fund to define the characteristics that comprise the preferred Doctor of Physical Therapy – Physical Therapist Assistant relationship from three different perspectives. These three perspectives include excellent DPT-PTA clinical teams who have received the outstanding physical therapist-PTA team award from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA); DPT students; and PTA students at three educational institutions. Results from this research will inform the development of a future integrated curricula designed to facilitate the development of these characteristics in DPT and PTA students.

The need for doctors of physical therapy (DPTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) to collaboratively and efficiently deliver patient care that is safe, ethical, and effective is imperative. Education of DPT and PTA students about their roles and responsibilities working as a team is required for entry-level clinical practice. Several published resources exist to assist practitioners in understanding the DPT-PTA team approach. Even with these published resources, confusion among DPTs and PTAs concerning the division of labor, the scope of work, and the level of supervision persists to the current day and may result in either under-or over-utilization of PTAs. No information exists regarding the qualitative qualities that are required for the development of preferred relationships between these providers, and there is a lack of research that has examined educational models designed for clarification of the roles of each profession and effective intraprofessional collaboration.

This document is currently not available here.