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Title: Occupational therapy students' experiences of role-emerging placements and their influence on professional practice
Author: Clarke, Channine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 6791
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2012
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Changes in health and social care present exciting opportunities for occupational therapists to expand their practice into innovative settings. To prepare graduates for these opportunities, placement experiences must reflect current trends in practice. Role-emerging placements are increasingly being used to help students develop the skills, knowledge and attributes needed to become the therapists of tomorrow. Whilst the literature on role-emerging placements is increasing, studies have tended to be general placement evaluations, with limited studies exploring students' experiences in detail. No studies have explored the influence of role-emerging placements on graduates' professional practice and identity. This study adopted a phenomenological design to gain a deeper understanding of how occupational therapy students experience and ascribe meaning to role-emerging placements and the ways in which such placements influence their professional practice and identity once qualified. In-depth initial interviews were carried out with five MSc pre-registration occupational therapy students within one month of having undertaken a role-emerging placement. Follow-up interviews were carried out six months after the students had graduated and gained employment. Interviews were audio taped, transcribed and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Key findings reveal that the role-emerging placements acted as a strong catalyst for the students' ontological development. Through engaging in challenging and autonomous learning experiences, they developed deeper insights of who they were becoming as professionals. This led to a professional identity that was of their own making. Having to continually reflect on and verbalise the core essence and contribution of occupational therapy, students developed clarity of understanding about the uniqueness of the profession. This is an important finding in light of the historical difficulty occupational therapists have had articulating their unique role and professional identity. Once qualified, participants had mixed experiences concerning the extent to which they were able to sustain this identity and enact practice in a way that was meaningful to them. A significant finding was the difficulty that graduates experienced working in NHS settings where the nature of occupational therapy practice restricted their ability to work in a way that was congruent with the professional way of being that they had developed during their placement. Consideration therefore needs to be given to the nature of occupational therapy practice in traditional settings. Recommendation is made for role-emerging placements to be made compulsory for all occupational therapy students to assist them in their ontological development and prepare them more effectively for practice. Further research into the long-term influence of such placements, in particular on graduates' practice and identity, is required.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B000 Health Professions