Document Type (Journals)

Educational Innovations


Occupational therapy students crave hands-on learning experiences that take place in authentic environments. This study describes an innovative experiential learning activity involving collaboration between an academic institution and an inpatient transitional care unit (TCU). Three cohorts of second year occupational therapy students (N=138) participated in the TCU learning activity, which involved reviewing the electronic medical record, planning and delivering a treatment, documenting the therapy session, and intentionally reflecting on the experience. Based on an optional, anonymous survey, one hundred percent of students reported that “this learning experience was valuable” and “provided opportunity to practice clinical reasoning.” Ninety-nine percent of students reported “this experience provided opportunity to connect what I am learning in class to the clinical setting.” Qualitative survey responses revealed similar themes. In summary, students felt more confident in their clinical skills and believed these experiences built competency for real world success. When using a formal, guided structure that includes supervision and reflection, experiential learning activities can add value to what is learned in the classroom.


Emily S. Grattan, PhD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and a Research Health Scientist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Her VA funded research is focused on improving measurement and treatment of post-stroke neglect.

Amanda K. Giles, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) with thirteen years of teaching experience. In 2019, she received the American Occupational Therapy Association Emerging and Innovative Practice Award and the MUSC Innovator of the Year Award for developing educational mobile applications.

Declaration of Interest

Dr. Grattan and Dr. Giles have no declarations of interest. Dr. Grattan has research funding and this work was supported in part by a Career Development Program Award Number IK2 RX002420 from the United States (U.S.) Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation R&D (Rehab RD) Service.

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.