Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Intraprofessionalism is vital to service delivery. This inquiry sought to develop and examine a college elective combining occupational therapy (OT) with occupational therapy assistant (OTA) students, to foster collaborative relationships, and to provide intraprofessional innovations in academia across an entire semester, immersing learners from multiple colleges/universities. Qualitative participatory action research (PAR) was used to determine ways to integrate OT and OTA students from four disparate programs in intraprofessional learning, and to understand students’ perspectives regarding the immersive, learner-centered educational programming. The research cycled through planning, acting, observing, and reflecting on topics related to OT/OTA integration, supervision, and role delineation. Inquiry took place in four accredited OT and OTA programs in Pennsylvania. Sixty-four (N=64; n=14 OT; n=50 OTA) students from four programs participated. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews, journals, and critical incident questionnaires and systematically analyzed to answer: (1) How do OT/OTA students negotiate intraprofessional relationships? (2) What are their perceptions of successful collaboration? and (3) What affected their ability to develop intraprofessional relationships? Attributes of effective intraprofessional collaboration included professional communication, trust, respect, and empathy. Self-awareness and an understanding of the professional counterpart were pivotal. Learners preferred face-to-face over distance interactions and required time to develop skills. Immersive, learner-centered opportunities over time were beneficial in academia for the development of collaborative skills necessary for intraprofessional partnerships. Logistics, cost, and time commitments were challenges to this approach. Findings contribute to foundational knowledge surrounding intraprofessionalism, detailing skills, attributes, and preferred approaches to learning for OT/OTA collaboration in practice.


Terri Reichley Dennehy, DEd, OTR/L began her career in occupational therapy as a certified occupational therapy assistant, then therapist, educator and researcher. She combines her passions for teaching and inquiry with hands-on approaches and action-based methods. She is currently Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at Elizabethtown College.

Declaration of Interest

I received a $1000 institutional grant to help defray the cost of this work.

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.