PTA Philosophy, Mission, Goals
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Statement of Philosophy: Physical Therapist Assistant

At the turn of the last century thousands of Finnish families settled, along with other immigrants, in this pristine and beautifully rugged country known as the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan.  Most of them worked as farmers, lumberjacks, or miners. Finlandia University's early aim was to educate the Finnish youth in English and other skills that would provide job opportunities in their new land.

The U.P. remains extremely rural in nature. Many of its inhabitants are the third generation of these immigrants. The large dairy and beef farms, which once sustained communities, have diminished.  Reduced resources and environmental regulations threaten to close down industries that once were the mainstay of the economy in the region. Large-scale manufacturing industries tend to not locate in the northern U.P. due to high transportation costs.

Small businesses/industries operating within the context of sustain-ability are prospering. Community leaders continue to look for creative ways to develop the region's economy within this framework. Finlandia University is committed to serving the region by contributing to this concept through its program development.

It is within this context that the health care industry in the U.P. is growing. Home health agencies are proliferating due to the large elderly population. Acute-care hospitals are changing to "systems" which provide physical therapy at all levels. Nursing homes are seeking (often through contracts) skilled rehabilitation services.

Physical Therapy is a profession, within the health care industry, which promotes optimal human health and function. The licensed physical therapist applies scientific principles to prevent, identify, alleviate, correct or reduce acute or prolonged movement dysfunction.  

The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is a skilled clinical practitioner who performs patient care under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist and carries out a treatment plan following established procedures. The PTA trains patients in exercises and activities of daily living; administers treatments using special equipment, observes and reports the patient's responses to treatment, and assists in performing evaluations, special tests and complicated treatment procedures.

Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants work as a team, treating clients with dignity and respect, allowing achievement of the highest level of independence.

Our PTA Program offers the opportunity for individuals from diverse educational, economic, and cultural backgrounds to receive highly personalized learning experiences. We strive to produce PTAs with open minds and excellent critical thinking skills, who can give quality care to those they serve.                                                                                           
PTA Program Mission Statement:
The mission of the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program at Finlandia University is to give each student the necessary education to become a competent physical therapist assistant. This is achieved through professional education and training using sequential instruction, practical clinical experiences and strong leadership. Emphasized throughout the student experience are problem solving skills, scientific inquiry, ethics, and teamwork, as well as examination of the roles of the Physical Therapist and the Physical Therapist Assistant and the boundaries between them. Also emphasized is development of professional behaviors that facilitate and enhance positive therapeutic relationships with patients including respect and sensitivity for ethnic, cultural and spiritual differences. Qualified clinical sites further support these ideas.

The PTA faculty believes learning is a life long process that requires self-assessment of professional behaviors, clinical skill performance and service to society.  This requires active participation in an open, supportive environment. The faculty demonstrates attitudes necessary to support individual learning styles maximizing each student's potential. Through the competency-based curriculum, the student is given the opportunity to learn the problem solving skills and professional behaviors necessary to become both a critical thinking PTA and a contributing member of society.

PTA Program Statement of Conduct and Ethical Standards
The student will abide by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant and Guide for Conduct of The Affiliate Member.

PTA Program Goals:
The goal of the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Finlandia University is to enable the graduate to function effectively as a physical therapist assistant in any practice setting.  By providing appropriate learning experiences, the successful student acquires the knowledge and skills necessary to be both an effective physical therapist assistant and a contributing member of society.

Based upon the mission and curriculum plan, the goals for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program are:

1. To develop clinicians who possess the necessary entry-level technical skills to practice as a physical therapist assistant in a variety of practice settings.

2. To develop clinicians that can apply knowledge of basic sciences and PT theory to the application and appropriate modification of selected PT procedures.

3. To develop clinicians who effectively communicate with patients, supervisors, support personnel and other health care team members using suitable verbal, non-verbal, and written skills.

4. To develop clinicians with critical/creative thinking and analytical skills to make sound clinical judgments and proposals to enhance patient care.

5. To develop clinicians who possess the necessary professional behaviors to practice as a physical therapist assistant in a variety of practice settings.  These behaviors include:

§ Commitment to Learning (Use of Constructive Feedback)
§ Interpersonal Skills
§ Communication Skills
§ Critical Thinking (Problem-Solving)
§ Stress Management (Effective Use of Time and Resources)
§ Professionalism (Responsibility)

6. To develop clinicians that deliver patient care in a respectful manner that reflects sensitivity to individual differences.

7. To prepare the student to pass the NPTAE examination allowing for state licensure to practice as a PTA.

8. To maintain a program accredited by CAPTE.

Physical Therapist Assistant Program Terminal Competencies*:


At completion of the PTA Program the student will demonstrate the following:

  1. Performs in a safe manner that minimizes the risk to patient, self, and others.
  2. Demonstrates expected clinical behaviors in a professional manner in all situations.
  3. Performs in a manner consistent with established legal standards, standards of the profession, and ethical guidelines.
  4. Adapts delivery of physical therapy services with consideration for patients’ differences, values, preferences, and needs.
  5. Communicates in ways that are congruent with situational needs.
  6. Participates in self-assessment and develops plans to improve knowledge, skills, and behaviors.
  7. Demonstrates clinical problem solving.
  8. Performs selected therapeutic exercises* in a competent manner.
  9. Applies selected manual therapy*, airway clearance*, and integumentary repair and protection techniques in a competent manner.
  10. Applies selected physical agents* and mechanical modalities in a competent manner.
  11. Applies selected electrotherapeutic modalities in a competent manner.
  12. Performs functional training* in self-care and home management and application and adjustment of devices and equipment in a competent manner.
  13. Produces quality documentation* in a timely manner to support the delivery of physical therapy services.
  14. Participates in the efficient delivery of physical therapy services.


*Physcial Therapist Assistant Clinical Performance Instrument

American Physical Therapy Association 2009