Orientation to Physical Therapist Assistant

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PTA 100

       Course Name: Orientation to Physical Therapist Assistant

       Credits: 2 (2 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

Admittance into program. BIO 231 or concurrent enrollment. HIT 104 or concurrent enrollment. Concurrent enrollment in PTA 103 and PTA 105.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course provides general orientation to health careers and the profession of physical therapy. Content includes professional ethics and conduct; legal issues and role of the physical therapist assistant.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Identify PTA as a health careers profession and demonstrate understanding of the history and development of Physical Therapy and of medical practice in the United States.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of healthcare economics and the current status of health care delivery and accessibility in the United States.
  3. Identify mechanisms to impact legislation and regulations.
  4. Identify the role of the PTA within various types of physical therapy settings and demonstrate an understanding of the parameters of responsibility of the PTA and supervision by the PT.
  5. Demonstrate a knowledge of the Illinois State Physical Therapy Practice Act in regards to licensing and practice regulations pertinent to the PTA.
  6. Demonstrate a knowledge of the legal aspects of patient care including forms of consent, confidentiality, malpractice and negligence.
  7. Recognize legal obligation as a PTA to report suspected child/elder abuse and neglect.
  8. Identify appropriate reporting agencies and community resources for those dealing with child/elder abuse and neglect.
  9. Demonstrate an understanding of the APTA as a professional organization, its structure, function and current practice issues.  Relate the Standard of Practice for Physical Therapy to known practice settings.
  10. Recognize the need for professional development and participation in professional activities.  Identify sources of continuing education, potential for career advancement and sources of professional literature.  Obtain and review examples of current professional literature.
  11. Demonstrate an understanding of structure of healthcare institutions.  Relate the importance of collaboration between health professionals, patients and family in the team approach to treatment.
  12. Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethics, attitudes and appropriate professional behaviors.  Relate the Guide for Conduct of the Affiliate Member and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for the PTA to physical therapy practice.
  13. Demonstrate an understanding of the Patient Bill of Rights and apply it to physical therapy practice.
  14. Describe how the profession of physical therapy contributes to social well being.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at
www.oakton.edu/studentlife/student-handbook.pdf

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Introduction to Health Care
    1. History of Healthcare in U.S.
    2. Structure of the Health Care System in U.S.
    3. History and development of Physical Therapy
    4. Physical Therapy as a Profession
  2. Health Care Economics
    1. Development of Healthcare Insurance
    2. Social Security Act (Medicare)
    3. Managed care
      1. HMO
      2. PPO
    4. Demographics and societal expectations
    5. Healthcare Legislation
  3. Role of the PTA
    1. Various practice settings
    2. Supervisory relationship to physical therapist
      1. Preferred Relationship Statement
      2. APTA statement on utilization of PTA
    3. Law and Regulations
      1. State law
      2. Policies
      3. Reimbursement issues
  4. Illinois State Practice Act
    1. Practice requirements
    2. Licensing requirements
    3. Reporting requirements – abuse, neglect, ethics
  5. Legal Aspects of Care
    1. Statute vs common law
    2. Consent
    3. Confidentiality
    4. Malpractice
    5. Negligence
  6. APTA
    1. Structure
    2. Function
    3. Practice issues
    4. Standards of Practice for Physical Therapy
  7. Professional Development and Activities
    1. Career ladders
    2. Continuing education
    3. APTA/National Assembly Membership
    4. Professional Publications
  8. Healthcare Institutions
    1. Total vs Partial institution
    2. Hierarchical  vs community structure
    3. Team approach
  9. Professional Ethics
    1. Code of Ethics
    2. Guide for Conduct of the Affiliate Member and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for the PTA
    3. Work ethic and professional attitudes
    4. Overextension and “burn-out”
  10. Patient Bill of Rights
    1. Patient rights
    2. Patient responsibilities
    3. Application to Physical Therapy

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Primarily lecture/discussion with audio visual supplements.


Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Course may be taught as face to face, hybrid or online course.  Attendance at all scheduled class time, participation in class discussion, timely completion of all assigned readings and homework.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

PTA Program Manual:  OCC PTA faculty.

Role of the Physical Therapist Assistant, Clynch, F.A. Davis, 2012.

Or texts of comparable content.

Handouts/articles as provided by instructor.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Written exams, including written final exam, participation in class discussion, completion of written assignments, homework, projects.

Grades determined by percentage of total points as follows:

90.0-100  = A
80.0-89.9 = B
70.0-79.9 = C

Scores below 70.0% are considered failing. It is not the policy of the program to "round up" decimals when computing final course grades. Exam and quiz grade average must be at least 70% to pass the course.

XI.   Other Course Information

  1. Attendance mandatory for all scheduled classes. Repeated tardiness and/or absences will result in lowering course grade.
  2. Students found guilty of plagiarism/cheating are subject to disciplinary action under the StudentCode of Conduct.
  3. Ordinarily there will be no make-ups of exams or quizzes, announced or unannounced.  In the event a student has an excused absence when a test or quiz is scheduled, the instructor may elect to allow a make up test with a penalty.
  4. Late homework assignments will not be accepted.
  5. In event of illness or emergency, instructor must be notified prior to class time.
  6. Electronic devices with audible signals are not permitted in class. This includes cellular telephones, audible pagers and translators with audible signals.


If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.