The purpose of this study was to gather student perspectives of the 16-week doctoral experiential component (DEC) of the entry-level doctor of occupational therapy educational curriculum from students who completed the DEC in an academic setting. A retrospective qualitative study of a focus group of five students who completed the DEC in an occupational therapy (OT) academic setting was conducted using semi-structured interview questions. Codes were grouped into themes and the findings were summarized. Four major themes emerged: 1) learning experiences; 2) purposeful ambiguity; 3) knowledge and skill development; and 4) newfound appreciation. Learning experiences included both the academic and other experiences during the DEC. Purposeful ambiguity encompassed opportunities the students had navigating experiences that do not have one solution. Knowledge and skill development included both the skills needed for the DEC and skills gained after the DEC. The final theme of newfound appreciation described how the DEC students expressed their new view of academia and their appreciation of having strong mentorship during this experience to help guide them into becoming a better academician. This study adds to the body of knowledge in OT education by providing a general framework of experiences that can be included in a doctoral experience in an academic setting and displays the benefits of the DEC as one method of preparing future OT educators.
Stacy Smallfield, DrOT, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA is Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Medicine and Assistant Director, Occupational Therapy Entry-Level Professional Programs, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.
Shelby Wood, MSOT was a Graduate Student in the Program in Occupational Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO at the time of this writing.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Smallfield, S., & Wood, S. (2019). Student Perspectives of the Occupational Therapy Doctoral Experience in an Academic Setting. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 3 (1). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2019.030108
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