Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


There is a transitional process that occurs when an occupational therapy (OT) practitioner assumes the role of an educator. Various challenges have been reported, though few directly address occupational therapy assistant (OTA) education. This study aimed to identify challenges faced by OT practitioners when they transition from working in a clinical setting to working as OTA faculty members. A 29-item online survey was developed covering three key areas of new OTA faculty members’ responsibilities: a) Learning the Educator Role, b) Curriculum and Class Development, and c) Interacting with Students. The survey was distributed through the American Occupational Therapy Association Program Directors’ and Academic Fieldwork Coordinators’ listservs, the Education Special Interest Section listserv and direct email to faculty members. Two hundred twenty-three participants completed the survey. Eight items were rated by 60% of participants as “Moderately” or “Very” challenging. Six of these items were in the category of Curriculum and Class Development, and two items were in the category of Learning the Educator Role. Interacting with Students was a relative area of comfort and strength. No significant relationships were found between the level of challenge experienced by OT practitioners transitioning to OTA educators and the demographic factors that were examined. Content analysis of open-ended survey questions yielded additional themes in each of the three categories that offer deeper insights into specific challenges. Collectively, results highlight areas where support and professional development can enhance successful clinician to OTA educator transitions.


Dr. Sparks-Keeney, EdD, MOT, OTR/L was a founding faculty member in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Pima Medical Institute, Renton, teaching pediatrics, growth and development, kinesiology, and anatomy and physiology. She received her Masters in Occupational Therapy at the University of Washington and her EdD in Educational Leadership at Seattle University.

Dr. Jirikowic, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA is an Associate Professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy at the University of Washington. She received her occupational therapy degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Ph.D. in Special Education/Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington. She teaches courses in pediatrics, assistive technology, and interprofessional education.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report 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.