BACKGROUND: Workforce responsibilities in the clinical setting between the physical therapist (PT) and physical therapist assistant (PTA) emphasize the necessity to develop intraprofessional skills fostering discipline collaboration. These skills impact the team process and the achievement of interprofessional patient centered outcomes. Collaboration is a skill that is sought after in inter- and intraprofessional teams. Intraprofessionalism is occurring within teamwork and collaborative activities labelled or described in interprofessional terms and tools. Health science professional programs have received recent mandates to address interprofessional collaboration skills within curricula. But disciplines that contain multiple professional roles need to address the within discipline, prerequisite intraprofessional skills prior to the field being represented in the care setting. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to examine PT and PTA student readiness to learn team collaboration skills within an academic setting and reveal the characteristics of intraprofessional education through the completion of a “professionalism” classroom focused project. METHODS: Following an explanatory sequential mixed methods approach, 54 PT and PTA students completed pre/post the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS) and Interdisciplinary Education Perception Scale (IEPS). Qualitative data collected included student previous supervisory work experiences, independent student meeting process descriptors, and student performance self/peer evaluations. RESULTS: The results showed that the overall RIPLS score increase pre to post was influenced by the strong values within the subscale “Teamwork and Collaboration” expressing the student perspective. IEPS subscales scores indicated consistently a student value for collaboration. The independent student meeting process was conducted without PT/PTA degree level distinctions and task accomplishment appeared seamless. Peer evaluations revealed the existence of collaboration characteristics within groups and individual student qualities. CONCLUSIONS: The results from the interprofessional tools used in this study support the inclusion of intraprofessional collaboration skills development in the classroom. Intraprofessional skills can be fostered in the academic setting as promoted by interprofessional education (IPE) mandates prerequisite to entering the clinic.

Author Bio(s)

Salome V. Brooks PT EdD MBA MA is an Assistant Professor in the Physical Therapy Program, School of Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Studies, Springfield College, Springfield MA. She is responsible for teaching the professional practice/management thread, research writing and applied research courses.

Renae Gorman PT DPT OCS is an Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Springfield Technical Community College, Springfield MA. She is responsible for teaching applied practice and research analysis courses in addition to clinical placements.


We would like to thank Michael Ward PhD, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa, for his assistance with the SPSS program and for his quantitatively focused comments during the course of this research that greatly improved the manuscript.



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Figure 1 - conceptual model diagram



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