The practice education of occupational therapy students with disabilities: Practice educators' perspectives

  • Hirneth M
  • Mackenzie L
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Practice educators play a key role in ensuring that occupational therapy students with disabilities are not excluded from educational experiences. However, little is known about how practice education for occupational therapy and other health professional students with disabilities can be facilitated effectively. A qualitative pilot study was conducted to obtain phenomenological data from clinical practice educators on this subject. Stratified sampling was used to select six occupational therapists from throughout New South Wales, Australia, who had supervised students with a wide range of disabilities. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the subjective experiences of and strategies employed by the participants when supervising a student with a disability. The participants often described the adoption of a 'therapist' role with these students. This approach was perceived as less effective than an 'educator' role in developing students' initiative and clinical reasoning skills. The participants identified both the need for more support and education from universities and the need for improved evaluation strategies to accommodate students' needs while maintaining professional standards. To ensure positive practice education outcomes for students with disabilities, future undertakings should focus on developing collaboration between universities, students and practice educators.

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