Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Occupational therapy programs are incorporating simulation experiences more regularly into their curricula. However, there continues to be a need for more evidence demonstrating simulation benefits, particularly when various client populations, standardized actors, interpersonal skill practice, and multiple disciplines are incorporated into scenarios. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to describe the meaning and impact of participating in an interprofessional simulation for occupational therapy students as part of their current academic preparation and future clinical practice in the hopes of increasing the participants’ interpersonal and clinical reasoning skills. Study participants were entry-level occupational therapy doctoral students (N=64) and their written reflections represented the collected data. The interprofessional simulation involved standardized actors and challenged students’ interpersonal skills as they responded to an unexpected and emotionally charged situation. Data were analyzed line by line and incident-to-incident, and ultimately organized into a categorical structure. There were four major categories: Simulation experience, Student meaning, Future clinical impact, and Multifactorial impact. Study results suggest: 1) occupational therapy students appreciate and benefit from simulation experiences; 2) standardized actors decrease familiarity for students and adds realism; and 3) interprofessional education opportunities contribute to students’ understanding of their own role and the roles of other disciplines. When designing simulation experiences, faculty should consider incorporating unexpected circumstances to challenge the student’s interpersonal skills, using a combination of high fidelity simulations with standardized actors, and including as many disciplines as possible to fully reflect the diversity and extensive skills of the interdisciplinary team.


Elena Wong Espiritu, OTD, OTR/L, BCPR is an Associate Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Belmont University. Prior to academia, she worked 10 years in the adult physical disabilities setting providing acute care, inpatient acute rehabilitation and outpatient services as a clinician and team coordinator.

Steven Busby, PhD, FNP-BC has delivered healthcare for 35 years. He worked as an EMT/Paramedic, as an RN in CVICU, ER and as a hospital nursing educator teaching critical care. He has been a family nurse practitioner for 22 years and has 16 years of higher education teaching experience.

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.