Voices of newly-graduated occupational therapists : stories of practice and education
In the past thirteen years in England the fields of higher education and healthcare have undergone radical changes that have challenged and changed the previous systems that were in place for the past several decades. These overall changes have mirrored and are being mirrored globally in most developed countries although each country's foundational educational, healthcare and political structures have developed in particular ways. This thesis is set within these contemporary scenes in both education and health. The developing profession of occupational therapy in England [not the UK] is the focus of this study and the experiences and stories of thirteen mature-aged students have been portrayed through narratives. These participants volunteered their time and efforts at a critical point in their professional development. This point surrounded the time of their graduation. The participants comprised two groups from two different schools that followed different learning philosophies; namely, subject-based learning [SBL] and problem-based learning [PBL]. Their stories focussed initially on an in-depth work experience with a client / patient but their subsequent embellishments included insights into their undergraduate educational experiences. The stories resulted from a method using a multi-layered reflective approach. The qualitative data were analysed and interpreted through two distinctly different methods of narrative analysis that opened windows on a person's world and analysis of narratives that opened windows onto a particular culture - that of occupational therapy in England. The narratives were presented against a backdrop of qualitative interpretive research and hermeneutic cycles and were framed against two contemporary frameworks: the artistic / interactive practitioner and a quadrant describing specific ways of practising. These were set within a macro-framework of a global Social- Ecological model. The participants were all successful in their professional entry qualifications and, so, the findings centred on those of congruency of educational fit in the entire learning experience and of subtle educational challenges that could enhance professional education particularly for a non-traditional group such as this one. The findings were also broad and so they have given rise to several avenues for further research.