Document Type (Journals)
Black/African American students account for 6.5% of the enrollment in entry-level occupational therapy (OT) and occupational therapy assistant (OTA) programs (AOTA, 2019). OT and OTA programs serve as the entry point to increasing diversity in the profession and contribute to a diverse healthcare workforce. Limited research exists that offers insight into the experiences of minority students enrolled in OT and OTA programs. The purpose of this study was to explore the academic experiences of Black/African American students enrolled in entry-level OT and OTA programs to identify supports and barriers in the educational experience. Eligible participants were asked to complete an anonymous survey that explored the experiences in the recruitment and admissions processes, interactions with faculty and peers, and other factors that influenced their learning experience. 124 respondents completed the nationwide survey. The respondents listed faculty and staff support, the use of diverse learning materials, and a supportive fieldwork environment as very important to a positive educational experience. A lack of faculty and staff support, financial concerns, and level of comfort sharing their life and cultural perspectives with classmates were listed as barriers to the educational experience. Results of this study provide insight on important factors that affect the student learning experience and can inform OT and OTA programs about potential areas of strength and identify areas of need to develop learning environments that encourage supportive and inclusive experiences for the next generation of OT practitioners.
Riqiea Kitchens, PhD, OTR, BCPR, CSRS is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at UTMB. Her research focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion in occupational therapy education and stroke self-management programming in medically underserved populations. She has presented and published at the local, regional, and national level.
Amber Armstead, DrPH, OTR, BCPR is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the UTMB. She has presented and published peer-reviewed research on health disparities and chronic HIV among marginalized communities, total wellness, community health, and chronic disease management among people living with HIV and neurodegenerative conditions.
Karthik Mani, OTD, OTR is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at UTMB. He founded the Vijaya Occupational Therapy Centre in 2006 and provides consultation via telerehabilitation to clients in India. In 2019, he founded the Indian Occupational Therapists Think Tank, a scholarly group in India.
Lima Ghulmi, OTD, OTR is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the UTMB, her research focuses on Lifestyle interventions with sever obesity, bariatric rehabilitation, and management of chronic diseases through daily habits and routines. She has presented regionally and internationally.
Diane M. Collins, PhD, OT is an Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the UTMB. Her research interests focus on improving the quality of life for adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders and spina bifida through assistive technology, environmental modification, and occupational therapy interventions.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest
Kitchens, R. F., Armstead, A. B., Mani, K., Ghulmi, L., & Collins, D. M. (2022). Exploring the Experiences of Black/African American Students in Entry Level Occupational Therapy and Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs: A Survey Study. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6 (2). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2022.060202
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