Enhancing occupational therapists' confidence and professional development through a community of practice scholars

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Abstract

An important professional issue for occupational therapy is the need to develop and maintain high quality occupational therapy services. Clearly a strong educational foundation is necessary, but not sufficient, for meeting this goal. Occupational therapists need to engage in ongoing education, professional development, and critique of their theory and practice in order to ensure they meet best practice standards. One way that practitioners can do this is to form practitioner communities with a focus on scholarship; a 'community of practice scholars'. Methods: Using the framework of an action research study, 3 three occupational therapy academics worked collaboratively with 25 occupational therapy practitioners over a period of 12 months, to forming a 'community of practice scholars'. During monthly teleconference meetings, community members were encouraged to discuss, critique, and reflect upon their practice using the concepts and models described in Enabling Occupation II as a stimulus. Transcripts of the final month's teleconferences, which focused on the members' evaluation of their involvement in the community of practice scholars, were qualitatively analysed. Findings: Two major themes are presented.The first theme, promotion of scholarship, describes suggests that involvement in the community of practice scholars assisted the participants to think more critically about their practice and to consider ways in which their practice might be improved. The second theme, promoting professional confidence, passion and cohesion, articulates indicates that the support offered by the group helped the participants to feel an increased sense of confidence in their contribution practice as occupational therapy therapistshas to make to society. Conclusion: It is proposed that communities of practice scholars have considerable potential for increasing the quality of practice provided by providing professional development opportunities for occupational therapists. In addition, such communities may lead to occupational therapists feeling more supported and experiencing increased satisfaction in their work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-318
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Volume59
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

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