Clinical education experiences (CEEs) serve an essential role in physical therapist (PT) and occupational therapist (OT) student development. The Ascent to Competence Scale (ACS) measures valuable attributes of belongingness, competence, and welcoming associated with CEE placement. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between PT and OT students’ belongingness and perceived competence during CEE using the ACS. A survey consisting of 35 questions from the ACS measuring students’ feelings of belongingness and perceived competence in the clinic was administered to PT and OT students from 7 Midwest universities. Respondents rated statements using a 5-point Likert-type scale (“never true” to “always true”). Ascent to Competence items were aggregated to develop belongingness and perceived competence constructs. One hundred nineteen (67.2% PT, 32.8% OT) of 509 (23.4% response) eligible students completed the survey. Results of a linear regression analysis showed belongingness in the clinical environment significantly predicted perceived competence measures, F(1, 117) = 182.389; P = r2 = .609, y(comp) = .721(Xbel) + 1.249. Cumulative weeks in CEE and practice environment did not contribute to the predictive model. The analysis lends further support to the role that belongingness plays in advancing perceived competence during the CEE. The results suggest that supportive clinical education environments can positively impact student learning by promoting a sense of belongingness among student therapists.
Patti Berg-Poppe, PT, PhD is a neurologic clinical specialist with 11 years’ experience as Assistant Director of Clinical Education within the University of South Dakota’s Physical Therapy Program. Dr. Berg-Poppe holds a position as Associate Professor and teaches content in neurology and pediatrics. Joy Karges, PT, EdD has served as Director of Clinical Education within the University of South Dakota’s Physical Therapy Program for more than 20 years. Dr. Karges holds a position as Professor and teaches research courses for USD’s PT Program. Ranelle Nissen, OTR/L, PhD has served as Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for the University of South Dakota’s Occupational Therapy Program since 2011. She teaches courses related to professional behavior, normal development of adulthood, and research. Dr. Nissen holds a position as Assistant Professor within USD’s OT Department. Susan Deutsch, PT, DPT is a pediatric physical therapist providing primarily educational outreach services through LifeScape in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Dr. Deutsch was a student within the University of South Dakota’s Physical Therapy Department while this study was underway. Kendra Webster, PT, DPT is a physical therapist practicing with Sundog Rehabilitation, LLC, an outpatient clinic in Rapid City, South Dakota. Dr. Webster was a student within the University of South Dakota’s Physical Therapy Department while this study was underway.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Berg-Poppe, P. J., Karges, J. R., Nissen, R., Deutsch, S., & Webster, K. (2017). Relationship between Occupational and Physical Therapist Students’ Belongingness and Perceived Competence in the Clinic using the Ascent to Competence Scale. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 1 (3). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2017.010303
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