Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


In the wake of COVID-19, practitioners, educators, and students had to shift to virtual interactions while experiencing significant unknowns and valid fears. This project describes the lived experiences of 37 occupational therapy students who lived through this international pandemic examining their reflections of how occupational therapy theories and models of practice could inform approaches to adapt to the changing context of their lives. Narratives of students collected as part of routine educational assessments in an introduction to occupational therapy theory course were examined using methods of content analysis to understand the perspectives of students’ needs, supports, and mechanisms of adaption as well as how students used personal experiences as part of transformative learning in the process of understanding approaches used clinically in occupational therapy practice. Three thematic categories emerged: ‘the demand to adapt,’ ‘engagement,’ and ‘mastery/agency.’ More students describe connecting to concepts from the model of Occupational Adaption (OA; Schkade & Schultz, 1992) versus other models of practice to achieve satisfactory engagement with occupations. Understanding these mechanisms of adaption may help faculty and university administrators effectively develop intervention strategies to help manage students’ reactions to disruptions in the future.


Laura VanPuymbrouck, PhD, OTR/L is an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Rush University in Chicago. Her clinical experience as an occupational therapist spans over 30 years across the care continuum of physical rehabilitation. She received her PhD in disability studies from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Linda Olson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA is the chairperson/program director of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Rush University. She has been an occupational therapist for over 30 years. Her clinical experience is in inpatient, outpatient, and community mental health. She received her PhD in Health-Related Sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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.