Title

Education to practice: How do new occupational therapists understand and use occupation in practice?

Location

Merritt Room

Start Time

2-10-2015 10:45 AM

End Time

2-10-2015 12:15 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Problem Statement: Although there has been an increased emphasis on the use of occupation in the practice of occupational therapy (OT), it is unknown to what extent clinical practice has evolved to reflect the focus on occupation. If the distinct value of occupation is key to the profession’s continued relevance in enabling health, data is necessary to identify how occupational therapists are prepared and use occupation in practice.

Purpose: The aim of this study is to understand how graduates of an OT program practice, how they articulate their practice, and if they use occupation in their practice.

Background: Wilcock (2001) identifies occupational science as a key to broadening horizons in OT. She suggests that “adopting occupational science will assist occupational therapists to think in occupational rather than medical terms” (p.412). An occupational perspective provides a way of thinking regardless of practice area. Pierce (2001) conceptualized critical bridges to link knowledge of occupation to practice including: generative discourse regarding occupation-based practice, and effective education. In 2006 the terms occupation-based interventions and occupation-based outcomes were first incorporated into the ACOTE standards further fixing the professions focus on occupation. Hooper et al. (2014) advocate keeping occupation at the center of learning. Despite the expectation that occupation is used in practice, there is little empirical knowledge of how this does or does not occur and how.

Methods: This research uses a comparative case study approach (Merriam, 1998) to explore the translation of knowledge of occupation from an OT education program to entry-level practice. Qualitative data collection includes: in-depth interviews of OT graduates about their understanding and experience of use of occupation in practice and photo elicitation of participant’s physical practice environment.

Results: Preliminary findings of this research provide an understanding of occupation and its use in practice from the perspectives of occupational therapist who have graduated from a specific OT program. In addition, participant’s reflections on the programs curriculum elucidates the extent to which the curriculum integrates various topics with the field’s core subject, occupation. It explores graduates conceptualizations of occupation, and the extent to which occupation is explicitly integrated into the curriculum. Understanding the integration of occupation into the curriculum is necessary to understanding practice, as the degree to which the core subject is integrated impacts formation of professional identity, clinical reasoning, self-efficacy as a practitioner, and advocacy on behalf of their profession to policy makers, payers, and consumers (Hooper et al., 2014 p.189).

Implications: Findings will contribute to the profession’s generative discourse concerning occupation, the diversity of how occupation is understood and realized in practice, and the impact education on occupation has on practice. Furthermore, findings will reveal strategies OT practitioners and educators can use to support an occupational perspective in practice. Mitcham (2014) proposed that education is the engine that drives the profession. This study will offer insights into education that have the potential to advance the distinct value of the profession’s core of occupation.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participate in the ongoing discussion on how occupation is realized in occupational therapy practice.
  2. Articulate barriers/supports to the translation of knowledge of occupation–based practice as experienced by recent graduates.
  3. Identify methods that may be used to gather data needed to enhance curriculum design.

References

Hooper, B., Krishnagiri, S., Price, P., Bilics, A., Taff, S., and Mitcham, M. (2014). Value and challenges of research on health professions’ core subjects in education. Journal of Allied Health 43(4), 187-193.

Merriam, S.B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Mitcham, M. D. (2014). Education as engine (Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, 636–648. http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.686001

Pierce, D. (2001). Occupation by design: Dimensions, therapeutic power, and creative process. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 250-259.

Wilcock, A. (2001). Occupational science: The key to broadening horizons. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64(8), 412-417.

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Oct 2nd, 10:45 AM Oct 2nd, 12:15 PM

Education to practice: How do new occupational therapists understand and use occupation in practice?

Merritt Room

Problem Statement: Although there has been an increased emphasis on the use of occupation in the practice of occupational therapy (OT), it is unknown to what extent clinical practice has evolved to reflect the focus on occupation. If the distinct value of occupation is key to the profession’s continued relevance in enabling health, data is necessary to identify how occupational therapists are prepared and use occupation in practice.

Purpose: The aim of this study is to understand how graduates of an OT program practice, how they articulate their practice, and if they use occupation in their practice.

Background: Wilcock (2001) identifies occupational science as a key to broadening horizons in OT. She suggests that “adopting occupational science will assist occupational therapists to think in occupational rather than medical terms” (p.412). An occupational perspective provides a way of thinking regardless of practice area. Pierce (2001) conceptualized critical bridges to link knowledge of occupation to practice including: generative discourse regarding occupation-based practice, and effective education. In 2006 the terms occupation-based interventions and occupation-based outcomes were first incorporated into the ACOTE standards further fixing the professions focus on occupation. Hooper et al. (2014) advocate keeping occupation at the center of learning. Despite the expectation that occupation is used in practice, there is little empirical knowledge of how this does or does not occur and how.

Methods: This research uses a comparative case study approach (Merriam, 1998) to explore the translation of knowledge of occupation from an OT education program to entry-level practice. Qualitative data collection includes: in-depth interviews of OT graduates about their understanding and experience of use of occupation in practice and photo elicitation of participant’s physical practice environment.

Results: Preliminary findings of this research provide an understanding of occupation and its use in practice from the perspectives of occupational therapist who have graduated from a specific OT program. In addition, participant’s reflections on the programs curriculum elucidates the extent to which the curriculum integrates various topics with the field’s core subject, occupation. It explores graduates conceptualizations of occupation, and the extent to which occupation is explicitly integrated into the curriculum. Understanding the integration of occupation into the curriculum is necessary to understanding practice, as the degree to which the core subject is integrated impacts formation of professional identity, clinical reasoning, self-efficacy as a practitioner, and advocacy on behalf of their profession to policy makers, payers, and consumers (Hooper et al., 2014 p.189).

Implications: Findings will contribute to the profession’s generative discourse concerning occupation, the diversity of how occupation is understood and realized in practice, and the impact education on occupation has on practice. Furthermore, findings will reveal strategies OT practitioners and educators can use to support an occupational perspective in practice. Mitcham (2014) proposed that education is the engine that drives the profession. This study will offer insights into education that have the potential to advance the distinct value of the profession’s core of occupation.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participate in the ongoing discussion on how occupation is realized in occupational therapy practice.
  2. Articulate barriers/supports to the translation of knowledge of occupation–based practice as experienced by recent graduates.
  3. Identify methods that may be used to gather data needed to enhance curriculum design.