Physical Therapy Assistants’ Cultural Competencies

Since the activities of physical therapy assistants (PTAs) are based on regular contact with patients, the cultural competencies of this profile are a significant aspect of their training. Haines, Stiller, Thompson, and Doherty (2017) emphasize the importance of adhering to the ethical standards of interaction and provide examples of controversial cases, for instance, patients’ complaints about PTAs’ incorrect behavior. Such examples are unacceptable in healthcare practice since, in addition to medical ethics, interpersonal communication plays an essential role in the work of employees in this field. People who undergo treatment after severe injuries and restore their motor functions experience stress and excitement caused by temporary disability. Accordingly, the help provided by PTAs can stimulate faster recovery and help normalize both the physical and mental condition of patients.

Oliveira, North, Beck, and Hopp (2015) give statistics showing the opinions of students in the physiotherapy specialty. The authors note that of the proposed merits of the training program, cultural awareness had the highest number of approvals – 40% (Oliveira et al., 2015, p. 20). Such a correlation proves that future employees are aware of the importance of appropriate communication and following ethical standards of interaction in the work process. When citing examples of abnormal behavior, Haines et al. (2017) mention rudeness, indifference to the needs of patients, as well as deliberate failure to assist. These actions are unacceptable in the practice of PTAs because their activities are based on constant interaction with people. Creating favorable conditions for recovery is included in the spectrum of their duties, even though they perform assisting functions. Therefore, cultural competencies are highly significant in the context of the medical field under consideration and are sometimes key impact factors.


Haines, J., Stiller, C. H., Thompson, K. A., & Doherty, D. (2017). Recent graduates’ perceptions of the impact of a 1-month international service learning experience in Kenya during their physical therapist assistant education. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 31(1), 73-79. Web.

Oliveira, K. D., North, S., Beck, B., & Hopp, J. (2015). Promoting collaboration and cultural competence for physician assistant and physical therapist students: A cross-cultural decentralized interprofessional education (IPE) model. Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions, 12, 20. Web.

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