Monday, February 1, 2010

Granting Competency to Therapy Assistants

My province, like many jurisdictions, has a policy that the standard for establishing competency of a TA in a task that may be delegated is for the PT to provide direct supervision of the TA while they perform the task and observe the TA performing the task competently.

While “observations” is definitely one standard for establishing competency (and may be the standard of practice established by your local regulatory body), it is not the only method and obviously has its own weaknesses. Is a new graduate PT as competent in the decision to “grant” competency on a TA via observation as a more experiences PT?

One of the frequent tenants of establishing competency is that it cannot be “granted” but is actually an intrinsic process. Only the individual that wish is establish competency knows if they have mastered the task within education and training they have received. External validation is still necessary in that individuals may not have the breadth of knowledge, skills, or experience to understand the full scope of what “mastery” for the task is. If I complete an external competency process successfully but know that I was simply lucky that certain questions were not asked that I might not have known the answer to or certain skills not tested that I may not have been able to safely perform, I honestly cannot consider myself competent. The first step in establishing competency is for individuals to honestly reflect on whether they have any gaps in knowledge or skills and then implement a plan to address those gaps.


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