The Physical Therapist Assistant Program is an integral part of the Community College of Rhode Island. The philosophy, mission and objectives of the program are consistent with the stated mission and goals of the College.
The Physical Therapist Assistant faculty believes that: As members of the health care community, Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants are responsible for promoting “wellness” as a concept embodying the health-illness continuum.
Health is the state of optimal balance of the physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural and environmental for each individual. Illness is the state in which aspects of this balance are diminished or impaired causing interference with meeting basic needs and/or quality of life.
Each person has personal dignity and worth as well as basic needs that are related to his/her level of wellness. Every person should have access to quality health care which recognizes unique customs, values, and beliefs and their effect on the acceptance and use of the health care system.
Physical Therapy is a health profession that contributes to meeting the health needs of society through programs of prevention, rehabilitation, public education, and research. It continues to evolve in response to changes in the health care environment, increased accountability of health care practitioners, regulatory changes, developments in technology, and growth in cultural diversity.
The primary purpose of Physical Therapy is to promote optimal human health and function. The Physical Therapist identifies potential and existing factors that interfere with the quality of life of an individual through patient examination. Through evaluation of this data, the physical therapist determines a diagnosis and prognosis, and develops a plan of care to include the application of principles and interventions, which are supported by scientific evidence to prevent, identify, assess, correct or alleviate acute or prolonged movement dysfunction. The Physical Therapist must be sure that the plan of care is dynamic and adapts, not only in the context of the patient presentation and response to treatment, but also to the changes as they occur in the health care environment.
The Physical Therapist Assistant is a technical health care worker who assists the physical therapist in the provision of physical therapy. Under the direction and supervision of the Physical Therapist, the Physical Therapist Assistant must perform Physical Therapy interventions and related tasks within the plan of care established by the Physical Therapist. Physical Therapist Assistants assist with data collection procedures. Interventions include written and verbal communication, patient-related instruction, and Physical Therapy procedures. Communication includes not only interaction with the patient receiving the care, but also with other individuals involved in their care. The Physical Therapist Assistant assists the Physical Therapist in working with other health care team members to provide therapeutic services and related support for the “whole” individual of any age with musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary and integumentary system impairments. Related tasks performed by the physical therapist assistant include a wide array of administrative responsibilities such as operational duties like billing, resource management, supervision of support personnel, public relations, and quality control/outcomes assessment. Physical Therapy is provided in a wide variety of practice environments including, but not limited to, acute care hospital, skilled nursing facility, out-patient clinic, school system, or vocational center. The utilization and expectations of the physical therapist assistant, the diversity of patient populations, types of interventions and related tasks in each practice environment are unique to that environment. Although the focus of the services in each site is to promote wellness, the delivery of the services at different sites will vary in complexity and scope. Maintaining standards of ethical and legal accountability in the practitioner/patient relationship and administrative functions serves as the foundation for morally responsible action.
The education process for Physical Therapist Assistants must also evolve to stay current with the changes in the health care environment, technology, cultural diversity and the impact of these changes on the delivery of Physical Therapy services. The curriculum must connect the elements of higher education with societal and clinical expectations. As the health care environment continues to change, it impacts the delivery and implementation of Physical Therapy services. Education for physical therapist assistants, therefore, is a life-long opportunity to develop personally, socially, and intellectually.
As each patient is unique, each student is unique. The learning process for each student is influenced by his/her adult life skills. These skills include problem-solving, social skills, time management, prioritization of values, understanding of academic demands, and the ability to identify personal strengths and weaknesses. Students have diverse backgrounds that shape the context of their learning.
The Physical Therapist Assistant Program faculty assumes responsibility for planning and implementing a program that includes Physical Therapy theory and practice as well as supporting courses from general education. The program faculty must collectively complement each other in attributes and qualifications. The program director must also demonstrate skills in leadership, governance, interpersonal skills, and resource management. Teaching emphasis is placed on the development of cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills needed to provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist to a diverse patient population in a variety of clinical sites in an ever-changing health care environment. The faculty creates a learning environment that is supportive, recognizing that each student is unique in their learning styles, strengths and weaknesses. A wide array of teaching methods and platforms are made available in classroom and laboratory experiences to motivate and provide opportunities for acquiring knowledge and skills for diverse learning needs. Lectures are accompanied by competency based laboratory experiences. Visual media and live demonstrations, some of which are made available in Blackboard to allow students the convenience to view the material at any time and to allow repetition for students that need it. Students are expected to complete written and oral assignments as individuals and in groups. Students are expected to communicate by email and through MyCCRI.
Clinical education reinforces and helps students to integrate knowledge, technical skills and behaviors to implement Physical Therapy interventions within the plan of care developed by the physical therapist. Clinical education is the vehicle for students to appreciate and respond to the uniqueness of each individual in their care. It is the opportunity to confront ethical and legal practice issues they may face in the workplace. Clinic sites are selected that provide a safe, stimulating, and collegial education environment which is assessed by the Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education (ACCE) who is a member of the program faculty. Clinicians, that meet qualifications set by the program faculty, are prepared and selected or assigned by the Center Coordinator for Clinical Education (CCCE) to be Clinical Instructors (CIs). The CI supervises and guides the student in their learning process at the clinic site and assesses the student’s performance against criteria established by the program faculty. The ACCE and program faculty oversee the students experiences, and are responsible for evaluation of the clinical faculty. As needed, clinical faculty will be given constructive feedback on their performance, as well as opportunities for clinical faculty development, to ensure optimum clinical education experience for the students.
As a culmination of role modeling in the academic and clinical settings, the Physical Therapist Assistant program instills in its graduate Physical Therapist Assistants this philosophy to produce physical therapist assistants with a deep rooted commitment to excellence in all that they do, and who are dedicated to positively representing and promoting the Physical Therapy profession.
Assistant Dean of Allied Health
Martha Vigneault, PT, DPT, MS, MEd, CEEAA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Interim Program Director
PTA Clinic Coordinator
Rehabilitative Health Department
For more information about the program contact:
Deborah Watson, M.Ed.
Associate Director- Enrollment Services
This page developed and maintained by Rehabilitative Health Programs. Send comments and suggestions to [email protected].