Physical Therapist Assistant

Classroom and Clinical Expectations

Classroom Expectations

Students enrolled in the Somerset Community College Physical Therapist Assistant Program are responsible for their own educational experience and assumption of associated responsibilities. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. educating one’s self of the requirements of the program;
  2. educating one’s self about the requirements of each course, as delineated in the course syllabus, and completing all coursework within the proper time frame; and
  3. conducting one’s self as a professional, both on the college campus and in the clinical setting.

Appropriate attire for classroom activities is casual dress.
Students applying to the PTA Program should be aware of the time and energy commitment required to successfully complete the program.

Attendance

The PTA Program curriculum can be challenging and, therefore, it is expected that students will attend all scheduled class and laboratory meetings. Attendance and tardiness policies are clearly spelled out in all course syllabi. Because there is a high correlation between classroom attendance and academic success, it is strongly encouraged that students attend all regularly scheduled class meetings. The student is directly responsible to the appropriate lecture or laboratory instructor if the student is tardy or absent and is responsible for any content missed, assignments, etc. The course syllabi contain information necessary to success in the class including a listing of required and recommended texts, materials and equipment, testing and grading information, goals and objectives of the course, and other required course learning experiences. In the event of any absence, the student is responsible for completing a Class Absence Remediation Form and completing assignments as required in order to take written or practical examinations. Excessive absences may result in the student’s withdrawal from the program.
Generally, the requirements for laboratory attendance are the same as for lecture courses, with specific details about the laboratory experiences included in each syllabus. There are three notable exceptions:

  1. Students are required to have available, at all laboratory sessions, appropriate clothing to reveal the legs, arms, and torso. Male students must have shorts and may be required to remove their shirt. Female students must have shorts and a halter top or sports bra. All students may be expected to wear hospital gowns at times.
  2. Laboratory practical examinations may or may not be given during the regularly scheduled class time. Therefore, students may be required to arrive early, stay late, or take the practical examination on a day other than the regularly scheduled class time.
  3. Students are required to inform the course instructor if they are unable to attend a practical examination twenty-four hours prior to the examination. The practical examination may be re-scheduled only with a valid excuse and only at the discretion of the instructor. If the student fails to complete the examination at the regularly scheduled or agreed upon time, the student may receive a score of zero (“0”) percent for the examination, at the discretion of the instructor.

Study Habits

It is expected that for every one hour of time spent in the classroom, the student will devote at minimum an additional three hours of study time outside the classroom. Students enrolled in the PTA Program are expected to assume responsibility for their own educational experience. The program encourages peer study groups and each first-year student is paired with a second-year student who acts as their mentor. The program has a formal student retention plan and program faculty members provide individual and small group tutoring sessions as requested. Students enrolled in general education courses may also benefit from SCC’s tutoring services through the Learning Commons.

Travel Related to Non-Clinical Courses

A number of PTA courses require that students travel to off-campus destinations to allow for improved learning experiences. Some are located in Somerset, but students may also be required to travel to other areas, some as far away as Lexington. Students applying to the program should be aware that they are responsible for their own travel costs and assume all liability associated with travel while in the program. All students enrolled in the program are required to sign a waiver to this effect. The program may or may not provide transportation to these off-campus destinations. The student is, again, responsible for all costs associated with such experiences, including, but not limited to the costs of travel, housing and emergency care related to either travel or injuries that may occur at the healthcare facility. Because students assume all personal liability while in the program, it is highly recommended that all students obtain health insurance and maintain it throughout the duration of the program.

Required Technical Standards

Individuals applying to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program must also meet the following technical standards, as spelled out in the KCTCS Rules of the Senate:

  • Sufficient visual acuity, such as observations necessary for administering patient care and for reading equipment gauges and settings used in treatments;
  • Sufficient auditory perception to receive verbal communication and to execute patient care through the use of monitoring devices;
  • Sufficient strength and gross and fine motor coordination to respond promptly and to implement patient care skills, such as manipulation of equipment and positioning and lifting of patients;
  • Sufficient communication skills (speech, reading, writing) to interact with individuals and to communicate effectively, as may be in the patient’s interest; and
  • Sufficient intellectual and emotional functions to implement the plan of care.

All students admitted to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program are required to sign a waiver of understanding with regards to these technical standards / essential functions. Students admitted to the program who fail to meet the these technical standards may be required to withdraw from the program if the limitation poses a potential safety risk to the student, other students, members of the faculty, patients, or others.
Students with emotional and/or physical limitations which prevent their full participation in some, but not all, therapeutic learning activities, will be referred to the ADA Coordinator. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the course instructor of necessary special accommodations to improve the student’s learning potential prior to the learning activity so that the instructor may, at his/her discretion, arrange for alternative learning experiences. If necessary, other professionals including counselors, tutors, and other professionals, may be consulted before the course instructor makes the decision with regards to the final action regarding the learning activity.
Learn more about Disabililty Services.

Informed Consent

Prospective students and students newly admitted to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program should know that, in order to perform many learning activities, it is necessary and traditional that students and/or academic and clinical faculty perform therapeutic activities on other students and/or faculty. As with any therapeutic activity, there are inherent risks associated with performing or receiving these activities.

Grading Scale

A standard, uniform grading scale is used in the PTA Program and is as follows:
 
A: 90.00 – 100%
B: 83.00 – 89.99%
C: 80.00 – 82.99%
D: 74.00 – 79.99%
E: 0 – 73.99%

Written examinations are generally utilized to evaluate student knowledge and analytical capabilities. These examinations are completed periodically throughout the semester, and may be presented in a variety of formats, including but not limited to, multiple choice, matching, brief essay, and short answer.
Laboratory practical examinations will be utilized to evaluate student knowledge, technical competencies, and interpersonal communication skills. A laboratory skills checklist documenting competency, observed by the responsible faculty member, must be completed prior to the student’s sitting for a laboratory practical examination. In order to progress in the program a student must score 80% or higher on all laboratory practical examinations and must demonstrate all critical skills elements consistently with 100% proficiency. Critical skills elements are those with safety, legal or ethical considerations and are made known to the student prior to the practical examination. Students who fail to achieve 80% on the second laboratory practical examination attempt must wait two days and document 2 hours of open lab practice time before the second lab attempt. The maximum percentage score a student may obtain on a second-attempt laboratory practical exam is 92%. Students who fail to achieve 80% on the second laboratory practical examination attempt must wait two days and document 2 hours of open lab practice time before the third lab attempt. The maximum percentage score a student may obtain on a third-attempt laboratory practical exam is 86%. A score of less than 80% is a failing grade for that lab practical exam and for the course, and the student will be advised to withdraw from the program.
Additional assignments, including research papers, oral presentations, group projects and other learning opportunities are required throughout the program and spelled out in the appropriate course syllabus. The final grade for every student in the class is based upon this scale and it is strictly adhered to. As outlined in the KCTCS Catalog, students must earn a grade of “C” or better in all general education and technical courses that count toward the fulfillment of the Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant Degree. Students must pass both the didactic and laboratory components, where applicable, with a grade of “C” or higher in order to receive a passing grade for the course. Students who fail to achieve a passing grade for any technical course will be dismissed from the PTA Program.

Clinical Expectations

 
Coordination of Clinical Education Experiences

The SCC PTA Program’s Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education (ACCE) coordinates program students’ clinical educational experiences. There are three clinical education courses in the program’s curriculum:

  • PTA 170, consisting of an 8-hour day each Friday for the last eight weeks of the first spring semester of the program;
  • PTA 240, consisting of a minimum of 40-hour weeks for the last four weeks of the second fall semester; and
  • PTA 280, consisting of a minimum of 40-hour weeks for the last ten weeks of the second spring semester.

Each clinical education site has a designated Center Coordinator of Clinical Education (CCCE) and an individual who is designated as the student’s Clinical Instructor (CI). This may or may not be the same individual. All PTA Program clinical education faculty members are unpaid voluntary faculty members.

Overview of Clinical Education

The SCC PTA Program’s clinical education curriculum includes integrated and terminal experiences designed to meet the mission and goals of the program. The clinical experiences are completed on a Pass/Fail basis and are designed to allow students opportunities to integrate skills and expectations that build in complexity. There are three different clinical experiences over the course of the program, beginning in the second semester. By the completion of the final semester’s Clinical Practicum III, students are required to consistently demonstrate 90% - 100% entry level competence. In order to ensure that students are prepared to sufficiently manage patients across the continuum of care, it is preferred that each student have at least one clinical experience in each of the following practice settings: acute care; post-acute care, including long-term care or rehabilitation facility; and outpatient care.
Clinical experiences are designed to provide students with supervised experiences that model:

  • Delivery of legal, ethical, and moral practice of physical therapy;
  • Safe and effective practice following regulatory requirements;
  • Broader responsibilities as a Physical Therapist Assistant, including patient care team member, advocate, consultant, teacher, manager, and leader;
  • Reflective practice, clinical reasoning, critical thinking, and evidence-based practice; and
  • Life-long learning and personal professional development.

Clinical experiences are also designed to provide students with opportunities to work with:

  • Persons across the continuum of health and through wellness and prevention, illness, and rehabilitation;
  • Persons across the lifespan including at the minimum elderly, adult and adolescent populations; and
  • Persons from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Attendance

All absences from clinical education must be made up and it is the responsibility of the student to make official arrangements to do so. One unexcused absence may be made up in this manner. If the student has more than one unexcused absence, the student will be advised to withdraw from the program with a grade of “W”. If the student elects not to withdraw at such time, the student will receive a grade of “F” for the course. Tardiness is considered an unexcused absence and each instance will be considered on an individual basis.

Should the student find it necessary to be absent during a clinical rotation, it is the student’s responsibility to contact both the clinical instructor and the ACCE at least one hour before the start of the clinical day. In the event of any absence, the student is responsible for completing the Class Absence Remediation Form and completing assignments as required in order to receive credit for the clinical rotation. Prolonged absences may require a leave of absence from the clinical rotation site. In the event of a leave of absence, the student will work with the ACCE and/or Program Director to specify the terms and conditions of the leave as well as conditions under which the student may resume clinical education experiences.
 
Students may not attend their clinical education sites on legal holidays observed by Somerset Community College. In the case of inclement weather, the student should abide by the clinic site’s policy. As a general rule, clinical experiences are not cancelled due to inclement weather and may not be affected by a local emergency. Even when Somerset Community College is closed (and program classes and laboratories are canceled), students are expected to attend clinical education experiences unless otherwise directed by the CI at the site, the ACCE, or the Program Director. The student is expected to use good judgment in the event that travel conditions between their residence and their clinical education site make travel unsafe or impossible. It is left to the discretion of the student to determine if travel is “unsafe” or “impossible”, but all missed days must be made up before receiving a grade for the course. If it is not possible for the student to attend, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the ACCE.

Student Requirements

  • The student assumes the responsibility for all costs associated with clinical education.
  • All students enrolled in the PTA Program must carry professional liability insurance purchased through the college.
  • All program students must maintain proof of current adult, child, infant, 1-person and 2-person CPR certification. Either American Heart Association-Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers OR American Red Cross-Basic Life Support for the Professional meets this requirement.
  • All program student are required to provide evidence of having received (or currently receiving) the Hepatitis B vaccine series OR sign a vaccine declination form.
  • All program students are required to provide written evidence of a negative TB skin test within the last 12 months written in mm (e.g. 0mm) OR if there is a history of a positive TB skin test then the student must provide a copy of chest x-ray results that must demonstrate no evidence of active TB.
  • Immunization records are required by clinical facilities the student is assigned to. These may include, but are not limited to: tetanus, rubella, rubeola, and varicella.
  • Students with communicable diseases that may pose a threat or risk to faculty, students, patients or others may be excused from attendance in classroom and clinical attendance. A physician’s note documenting the illness is required and the student is required to notify the ACCE in advance. Students are required to make up all missed days.
  • The student may be required to submit to drug testing or formal background checks, at the student’s expense, if required by the clinical site.
  • The student will assume responsibility for and all health care / medical or emergency room costs they might incur during their clinical rotation.
  • The PTA Program does not explicitly require that students obtain personal health insurance, but highly recommends it. However, some clinic sites may require that the student obtain and maintain personal health insurance during their clinical education at that site. The student assumes all responsibilities for the costs associated with clinical education, including procurement of personal health insurance, if required.
  • The student will assume the responsibility for travel to and from the clinical site and all associated costs.
  • The student will assume the responsibility of obtaining housing and all related costs, if necessary, for all clinical education.
  • The student will be responsible for communication related to all clinical experiences.
  • The student will be responsible for any written assignments, clinical in-service presentations, and patient documentation required.
  • The student will complete a final evaluation of the clinic.
  • Students with emotional and/or physical limitations which prevent their full participation in some, but not all, therapeutic learning activities will be referred to the ADA Coordinator. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the course instructor of necessary special accommodations to improve the student’s learning potential prior to the learning activity so that the instructor may, at his/her discretion, arrange for alternative learning experiences.

Student Adherence to Facility Policies and Procedures

Students will observe the clinical facility’s dress code at all times. In some cases, this may require that the student purchase scrubs or a white lab coat. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the CCCE or clinical instructor prior to the first day of the clinical rotation to insure compliance with the clinic site’s dress code and other policies unique to the site. This may include policies regarding, among others, identification badges, earrings, hair length or style, strong perfumes or deodorants, chewing gum, smoking, shoes, socks, jewelry, tattoos, etc. Because consumers may view the student as a direct representation of that particular clinic site, the student should pay extra attention to personal hygiene. Students who fail to meet the facility’s dress code and other related policies may be removed from the clinical rotation, at the clinic’s request, with or without prior notice and may or may not be permitted to repeat the rotation, depending upon clinic site availability and the nature of the student’s failure to adhere to the clinic’s policies.
The student will wear the SCC PTA Program name badge at all times unless the facility requires a standard name tag for students. The student is responsible for informing all potential patients that he/she is a PTA student.
 
Should the student perform any violation of the clinical site’s policies, standards or procedures that presents actual, potential or perceived danger to patients, staff, visitors, or the premises, the college shall be responsible for removing the student from the clinical learning experience, with or without prior notice.
 
All students are provided training in the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines on bloodborne pathogens, the use of standard precautions and the HIPAA privacy requirements prior to clinical assignments. All students must adhere to all OSHA and HIPAA guidelines.

Clinical Course Grading Scale


Students must complete all clinical rotations with a grade of “P” (Pass) to continue in the program. Students who do not successfully complete one or more of the clinical evaluation items may, at the discretion of the core faculty, complete additional clinical educational experience(s) so long as these experiences are completed prior to the first day of class in the following semester. Students who elect not to complete the remediation or are unsuccessful in completing the remediation will receive a grade of “F” and must withdraw from the program.