Document Type (Journals)
Despite the evidence of significant consequences stemming from the intense demands on students, most graduate-level programs have insufficiently considered components of students’ wellness. Thus, the purpose of this research study was two-pronged: 1) to evaluate current occupational therapy students’ perceptions of wellness and 2) to explore student perceptions on using communities of practice as a program delivery method to enhance wellness. A qualitative study design was selected to gather experiences and feedback from occupational therapy graduate students. Participants were recruited via email from a convenience sample of a large, research-based Midwestern occupational therapy program. Participants attended one focus group and completed a brief demographic survey. The focus group data was audio-recorded and later transcribed by research coordinators. Transcript-based analysis was used and after transcription was completed, constant comparison analysis was used to determine final themes. In all, fourteen participants engaged in the study. Three main themes emerged: 1) wellness is a holistic concept, 2) graduate school is a novel experience, and 3) a group educational program that meets regularly could be beneficial for enhancing wellness. The results illustrate that occupational therapy graduate students both value their wellness and are interested in prioritizing its promotion and maintenance. With few comprehensive wellness programs currently available for graduate students, the information gathered from this study provides further support for these services and resources to be made readily available. Furthermore, the results from this study may guide program design, promoting greater wellness in occupational therapy students, and potentially students across other graduate-level disciplines.
Kelsey Lawrence is pursuing her Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.
Katherine Chin is pursuing her Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.
Stacy Smallfield, DrOT, MSOT, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA is Associate Program Director, Capstone Coordinator, and Associate Professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy Education, College of Allied Health Professions, University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE. At the time of this writing, she was Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Medicine and Assistant Director, Occupational Therapy Entry-Level Professional Programs, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.
Declaration of Interest
The authors have no declarations of interest.
Lawrence, K., Chin, K., & Smallfield, S. (2021). Occupational Therapy Student Perceptions of Wellness: Focus Group Findings. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 5 (4). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2021.050404
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