Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


As the profession of occupational therapy enters its second century of existence, it is important to recognize that for continued sustainability and strength through the effects of healthcare reform, strong leadership is required. While experts agree that leadership development for occupational therapists needs to begin in the classroom setting, there is little existing research on occupational therapy leadership education. Built upon a theoretical framework of the transformative learning theory, this qualitative study sought to determine whether students in an online leadership course within a post-professional doctor of occupational therapy degree program believed they experienced a transformation in their leadership knowledge and skills as a result of the course. Additionally, the study sought to identify the teaching strategies and course materials that students perceived as the most beneficial to their leadership development. Summative course evaluations and written reflective forum discussions were used to examine students’ personal narratives regarding the experience of the leadership course and their thoughts on which components of the course were most beneficial to their leadership development process. Findings revealed that students did indeed experience transformative learning, which provided them with a new understanding of leadership and confidence to engage in leadership opportunities. Students attributed their learning to several factors including reflection, assigned readings, peer support, and meaningful TED talk videos. Insight gained from this study’s results can assist other leadership course instructors to develop a course that will facilitate a transformative learning experience.


Melissa Sweetman, PhD, OTD, OTR/L holds a PhD in Leadership with a concentration in Educational Administration. She is the Founding Program Director for the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Wingate University and previously served as Program Director of the Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

Declaration of Interest

The author reports no declarations of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.