Document Type (Journals)
Service learning is an active method that combines academic knowledge and hands-on experience while serving a community. Service learning is well established within occupational therapy (OT) and allied health education, as many institutions have organized both domestic and international service learning experiences. Literature supports student benefits of participation in international service learning (ISL), but limited literature exists on the long-term impact of participation in ISL throughout allied health education. Many OT students participate in ISL during their education, but there is limited literature on the impact of an ISL experience on participants’ careers in OT. In this qualitative study, an online survey was distributed to past participants of an ISL trip of an OT program in the Midwest. Of the 100 subjects, 30 completed the survey. Researchers used conventional content analysis to extract themes from the data. Two themes were identified: (1) evolving professional self and (2) transformative personal experience. Subthemes of the evolving professional self theme included: (1) desire to work with vulnerable populations, (2) professional soft skill development, and (3) acquisition of knowledge and skills. Results indicate that benefits are maintained after graduation signifying that participation in ISL may have a sustained, lasting influence on OT practitioners. ISL supports the values of OT education by shaping professional identity through active, diverse learning and self-reflection to promote lifelong learning. Results broaden the profession’s understanding of the outcomes of ISL post-graduation and inform ISL best practice standards within OT education.
Karen Schnedl, OTD, is a 2020 graduate of the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.
Lauren E. Milton, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor at the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Schnedl, K., & Milton, L. E. (2021). Outcomes of International Service Learning (ISL): Alumni Perspectives. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 5 (3). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2021.050306
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.