Essential Performance Functions for PTA Students

To be successful in the PTA classroom, lab and clinical settings, and ultimately successful as a physical therapist assistant, students must possess the intelligence, integrity, compassion, humanitarian concerns and physical and emotional capacity necessary to practice physical therapy.  At a minimum, students must possess the following essential skills:

Critical Thinking – calculation, problem solving, reasoning and judgment

·         Collect, document, interpret and analyze written, verbal and observed data regarding patients

·         Prioritize multiple tasks, integrate information and make effective decisions

·         Act safely and ethically in physical therapy settings

·         Recognize the difference between facts and opinions

·         Exercise good judgment in classroom, lab and clinical/professional settings


Interpersonal and Behavioral Skills – working with others, resolve conflicts, offer support

·         Establish productive working relationships

·         Foster cooperative relationships with classmates, instructors, health care providers, patients and their families

·         Ability to work with lab partners, patients and others under stressful conditions, including but not limited to medically or emotionally unstable individuals and situations requiring rapid adaptations or emergency interventions

·         Appropriate maturity, emotional stability and empathy to establish effective and harmonious relationships in diverse settings

·         Apply conflict management and group problem solving strategies

·         Demonstrate professional behavior in classroom, lab and clinical settings including but not limited to appropriate personal hygiene, timeliness, preparation and concentration


Communication Skills – verbal, non-verbal and written

·         Process and communicate information effectively and in a timely manner in the English language

·         Comprehend written material in the English language at a level required for safe and effective patient care

·         Effectively communicate information in the English language in a succinct yet comprehensive manner regarding status and safety of patients including written or dictated patient assessments

·         Effectively communicate in the English language with instructors, patients/families and other health care providers

·         Recognize, interpret and respond to nonverbal behavior

·         Demonstrate ability to listen effectively

Motor Skills – gross motor, fine motor, coordination

·         Ability to sit for long periods of time, including up to 4 hours

·            Ability to stand for long periods of time, including up to 6 hours

·         Adjust and position patients and equipment, including bending or stooping to floor level and reaching above head height

·         Move and position patients and equipment, including the ability to lift, carry, pull and guide weights up to 50 pounds

·         Assist in patient care including standing, kneeling, sitting or walking for 60 minutes or longer without rest

·         Demonstrate ability to manipulate physical therapy equipment, including finger dexterity

·         Perform CPR without assistance

Sensory Skills – visual, auditory, tactile

·         Ability to observe and respond to patient responses including facial expressions, movement patterns, verbal responses and reaction to environment

·         Ability to assess safety factors involving patient care and physical environment and ability to take measures necessary to assure a safe environment

·         Ability to respond to equipment alarms, call bells and timers

·         Ability to effectively monitor blood pressure and breath sounds

·         Tactile ability to palpate pulse and detect abnormalities of skin texture, skin temperature, muscle tone, tissue texture and joint movement