Clinical Education Program Overview

Clinical Education Program

View Clinical Education Handbook

The Clarkson College PTA program offers a well-structured academic curriculum and 15 weeks/600 hours of hands-on clinical practicum experience. The PTA curriculum is designed to be completed in either six semesters (traditional program), two of which are summer sessions, or four semesters (transfer program), which includes one summer session. The program is based on an integrated model that includes general education requirements, PTA core curriculum and a clinical education program.

The clinical education program facilitates student learning to assist patients of all ages and with various movement disorders as they become independent in their day-to-day functions. Students will be supervised by a licensed physical therapist and/or physical therapist assistant who is under the direction and supervision of a supervising physical therapist. Because every patient/client has a unique set of circumstances, students will utilize the critical thinking skills they learn to create personalized rehabilitation plans that include various physical therapy interventions and activities to help them reach their goals.

Students complete four clinical practicums throughout the duration of the program. See the table below for curriculum placement of each practicum for the traditional and transfer PTA program options:

Clinical Practicum Week/Hours Traditional PTA Program Transfer PTA Program
I- PTA 125 1 week /40 hours Summer Semester-1st year Spring Semester -1st year
II- PTA 220 3 weeks /120 hours Spring Semester- 2nd year Summer Semester-1st year
III- PTA 240* 5 weeks /200 hours Summer Semester -2nd year Fall Semester-2nd year
IV- PTA 245* 6 weeks /240 hours Summer Semester- 2nd year Fall Semester -2nd  year

*Students complete the final two clinical practicums back-to-back, prior to graduation for each program.

PTA Program Clinical Practicum Outcomes

  1. Explore various types of medical documentation used in health care and differentiate among Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan data in S.O.A.P. note format. 
  2. Identify short- and long-term functional PT goals in a variety of patient scenarios and clinical examples.
  3. Utilize skills learned in PTA 110 (Basic Skills in PT), PTA 115 (Ther Ex I) and PTA 120 (Ther Modalities I) in the clinical setting under the supervision of a PT/PTA. 
  4. Recognize the importance of patient confidentiality in health care and identify processes used to maintain compliance in the clinical setting.
  5. Model a developing level of professional communication with faculty, peers and health care professionals in both classroom and clinical experiences.
  6. Recognize individual and cultural differences as well as the responsibility to provide equitable and unbiased care.
  7. Develop a foundational understanding of the PT/PTA professional relationship in respect to aspects of evaluation, plan of care, treatment, discharge and supervision.
  1. Work under the supervision of a PT or PTA while implementing patient care treatment plans and utilizing the skills learned in the PTA program.
  2. Demonstrate conduct that reflects legal, safe and ethical care and appropriately represents the Values of Clarkson College.
  3. Generate an intermediate level of documentation on patient care utilizing the format pertinent to the affiliating clinical agency.
  4. Identify and discuss both short- and long-term patient care goals with the CI, as related to function and the patient's established plan of care.
  5. Effectively communicate with clinic staff/patients on site and faculty/peers through the utilization of an -internet-based discussion forum.
  6. Exhibit a developing level of clinical reasoning in regard to decision making of the PTA within the scope of clinical practice.
  7. Research the etiology, common signs/symptoms, given prognosis and treatment for a specific patient diagnosis as seen in the clinical setting and orally present the findings to faculty and peers (Case Study).
  8. Differentiate between various methods to bill for services, common insurances and third-party payers and understand how documentation can affect reimbursement.
  9. Participate in/identify the appropriate role of a PTA in services including evaluation, establishment of plan of care, intervention and discharge while recognizing when an action may be beyond the PTA’s scope of practice.
  1. Work under the supervision of a PT/PTA during the implementation of patient care treatments and services.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the multi-disciplinary team approach to patient care in a PT setting.
  3. Provide patient-related education and instruction to patients, family members and caregivers in order to progress patients toward goals within the plan of care.
  4. Prepare and present a formal staff in-service on an appropriate topic agreed upon between the CI and the student.
  5. Perform a quality assurance assessment relevant to the affiliating clinical agency and prepare a written report on the findings.
  6. Produce documentation of patient care treatments utilizing the format pertinent to the affiliating clinical agency.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethics such as obtaining informed consent and distributive justice as related to the role of the PTA in patient care.
  8. Exhibit a working understanding of the PT/PTA supervisory relationship with specific consideration of when it is appropriate to contact the supervising PT concerning patient status and changes to the plan of care.
  9. Demonstrate clinical reasoning in the delivery of the plan of care and in the process of discharge planning relevant to the affiliating clinical agency under the supervision of a PT.
  1. Independently work under the supervision of a licensed PT/PTA in the process of implementing patient care, planning for discharge procedures and providing follow-up services as limited to the scope of practice for the PTA.
  2. Justify changes of interventions within the plan of care based on patient status and progression/regression and identify when it is appropriate to report findings to the supervising PT regarding changes to plan of care.
  3. Analyze the importance of social responsibility, community service, advocacy and involvement within the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the PTA Caucus.
  4. Prepare and present a formal in-service to staff on an appropriate topic agreed upon between the CI and the student.
  5. Document and present a selected patient case study to faculty and peers upon return from clinical practicum.
  6. Demonstrate effective and professional verbal/non-verbal communication with faculty, staff, patients and other health care providers.
  7. Perform complete, accurate, timely and legible documentation of care of treatments provided using a format pertinent to the affiliating clinical agency and all applicable regulatory agencies.
  8. Educate both the public and health care communities about the profession of physical therapy and advocate for the role of the PTA within the rehabilitation team.
  9. Recognize individual biases and their potential for effect and identify ways in which to deliver impartial care to all individuals.


PTA Program Options

PTA Program Director
Mrs. Jessica Niemann, PTA, MEd
Program Director
PH 402.552.2868

Director of Clinical Education (DCE)
Mrs. Karen Abboud, PTA, MHA, CLT
Associate Professor & DCE
PH 402.552.6096

Course Coordinator
Mrs. Greta Schoneman, BS PTA, CLT
PH 4402.552.3325