Skill Acquisition during Fieldwork Placements in Occupational Therapy
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A critical shortage of occupational therapy fieldwork placements has led therapists to pose the question: how many hours of fieldwork are actually required in order for a student to acquire the breadth and depth of clinical competence required for entry level practice? In this study, student scores on the Performance Evaluation of Occupational Therapy Students, gathered over a four year period, were utilized to address this question. The level of competence expected of a new graduate on the CAOT Occupational Profile (Bridle, 1981) was used as the criterion against which student scores were judged. Statistical analyses were performed to determine the level of acquisition of occupational therapy skills and techniques, by item and by groups of items; to identify "core" and "specialty" items; and to determine whether 1200 hours of field work is the optimal choice for students to be able to demonstrate clinical competence in the field. Results indicate that, while most students attain many of the skills and techniques pertinent to occupational therapy, competence is reached only on those core skills which are frequently encountered and which have actually been experienced by the student across a number of placements. Recommendations include a re-examination by the profession of the expectations which have been set for an entry-level graduate.
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