Essential Functions of the Physical Therapist Assistant

The field of Physical Therapy is demanding. Physical Therapist Assistant students are required to fulfill all program requirements, which are guided by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. In order to meet these requirements, the Physical Therapist Assistant Department has identified the following essential functions which students must possess. These functions are not all-inclusive nor do they reflect what may be required for employment of the graduate Physical Therapist Assistant.

Observation Skills:

  1. Possesses the visual ability to observe a patient's response to treatment, read or set parameters on physical therapy equipment, observe and assess the environment, gather information from medical records and professional literature.
  2. Possesses the auditory ability to recognize and respond to a patient's or co-workers voice, equipment timers, and alarms.
  3. Able to use equipment to assess blood pressure, pulse rate, and breath sounds.
  4. Possesses the tactile ability to palpate surface anatomy, palpate pulses, detect skin temperature, and adjust physical therapy equipment.

Communication Skills:

  1. Able to communicate in English in both written and oral fashion with faculty, patients, fellow co-workers and family members using appropriate terminology, accuracy, and efficiency.
  2. Possesses the ability to recognize, interpret, and respond to nonverbal behavior of self and others.

Motor Skills:

  1. Has the motor control necessary to safely transfer a 150 lb. patient from the bed to the wheelchair with maximal assist.
  2. Has the motor control necessary to safely walk with patients and provide gait training with and without assistive devices.
  3. Has the ability to lift 50 lbs. and carry 25 lbs.
  4. Has the motor control necessary to adjust knobs on physical therapy equipment, perform manual therapy techniques, adjust equipment such as wheelchairs, and utilize physical therapy equipment such as goniometers, grip gauges, and free weights.
  5. Able to obtain and maintain CPR certification for the Professional Rescuer.
  6. Able to use proper body mechanics for all skills related to physical therapy.
  7. Able to demonstrate the ability to apply universal precautions when rendering physical therapy treatment.
  8. Has the motor control necessary to provide for the patient's safety in all physical therapy activities.
  9. Possesses the endurance necessary to perform 40 hour work weeks during their clinical education courses.

Intellectual Conceptual Skills:

  1. Able to attain a 75% (C-) or better in all Physical Therapist Assistant core courses as well as a "C-" in Anatomy and Physiology I and II, and Basic Exercise Physiology.
  2. Able to prioritize multiple tasks, integrate information, and make decisions.
  3. Able to collect, interpret, and assess data about patients.

Behavioral Social Skills:

  1. Able to interact appropriately with individuals of all ages, genders, races, socioeconomic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
  2. Able to cope with heavy workloads, patient demands, changes in schedule, and patients who may be terminally ill.
  3. Able to recognize and respond appropriately to potentially dangerous situations.
  4. Adheres to the Orange County Community College Student Code of Conduct in all academic and clinical settings.
  5. Maintains patient confidentiality.
  6. Possesses the emotional health and stability required to fully utilize intellectual capabilities, demonstrate good judgment, and render physical therapy treatment.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Department fully supports the provision of reasonable accomodations to students with special needs. Program requirements are not altered. Instead, it is the policy of Orange County Community College and the PTA Department to provide reasonable accommodations to students with special needs who request them. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Office for Special Services to arrange for an assessment of his/her needs. Students are encouraged to contact the Department Chair and course instructor as soon as possible to discuss their particular situation.

If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing special accommodations in the course, please make arrangements to meet with the course instructor as soon as possible. Please contact the Office of Disability Services located on the 3rd floor of the Shepard Student Center, (845) 341-4077, follow their guidelines regarding submitting documentation and bring your official Accommodation Notice to the course instructor as soon as possible. Provision of accommodations is not retroactive. Any grades earned prior to notifying the instructor of your accommodations will be counted in the calculation of final grades.

Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action:

Orange County Community College is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.  In accordance with Federal regulations, the New York State Human Rights Law and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Orange County Community College does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, religion, creed, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin, race, gender or sexual orientation in employment or in the educational programs and activities which it operates.