Enhancing occupational therapists' confidence and professional development through a community of practice scholars Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • INTRODUCTION: 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 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 action research, three occupational therapy academics worked collaboratively with 25 occupational therapy practitioners over a period of 12 months. During monthly teleconference meetings, the research group discussed, critiqued and reflected upon their practice. Transcripts of the final month's teleconferences, which focussed on evaluation of the community of practice scholars, were qualitatively analysed. FINDINGS: Two major themes are presented. The first theme, promotion of scholarship, describes that involvement in the community of practice scholars assisted 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 that the support offered by the group helped the participants to feel an increased sense of confidence in their practice. CONCLUSION: It is proposed that communities of practice scholars have considerable potential for 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.

publication date

  • August 2012