Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Life skills are the basic skills required to function in everyday life. Occupational therapy assistant (OTA) students may struggle with life skills, and as a result experience challenges in academics and practicum. The purpose of this phase of a multiphase study was to identify the life skill needs of OTA students from multiple perspectives. This study used a pragmatic qualitative design. Students in the second year of a 2-year therapy assistant diploma program, graduates, instructors, and preceptors participated in interviews or focus groups to discuss OTA students’ life skill needs. Interviews and focus groups were recorded and transcribed. Applied thematic analysis was used to analyze the interview and focus group data and draw conclusions. Common themes were identified: contributors to student success; impact of students’ life skills on clinical encounters; and life skills training needs. These themes were identified across all participant groups. Findings suggest that OTA students with lower confidence or abilities in life skills may also have lower confidence and success in clinical encounters. Life skills training tailored to OTA students may help students develop foundational skills to enhance their confidence and competence in relevant life skill areas.


Dr. Candi Raudebaugh, DSc (RHL), M.Sc. (OT), B.Sc. (OT) is an instructor at Red Deer Polytechnic and a graduate of the Doctor of Science in Rehabilitation and Health Leadership program at Queen’s University. Her research focused on life skills training for therapy assistant students. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1265-8566.

Dr. Marcia Finlayson, PhD, OT Reg (Ont), OTR is Vice Dean (Health Sciences), and Professor and Director, School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her research focuses on self-management and health services utilization among people with multiple sclerosis, primarily using mixed methods approaches. ORCID:https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1774-4810

Dr. Kathleen Norman, BScPT, PhD is Professor and Associate Director (Research and Post-Professional Programs) in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her research has spanned neuroscience, rehabilitation, physical therapist education and regulatory matters, and health services. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7409-7704

Dr. Sally Stewart, PhD, MA, BPE, CSEPis an Associate Professor of Teaching in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC Okanagan. Her educational leadership research focuses on student wellbeing and academic success specifically through development of credit course offerings in student health and wellbeing, and faculty training to implement classroom wellbeing practices.

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.