Clinical education of occupational therapy students: reluctant clinical educators

Patricia De Witt, Alan Rothberg, Judith Bruce


Clinical education is essential to the development of clinical and professional competencies in occupational therapy students during the mandated 1000 hours of clinical practice.  Students’ concerns about the quality of their clinical education were raised during a routine HPCSA accreditation visit.  These concerns resulted in a qualitative study which used hermeneutic phenomenology as the strategy to explore, examine and understand the ‘lived experiences’ of clinical education within the context of occupational therapy practice by those who provide it and who receive it.

Focus groups were used to collect the data.  The purpose of the focus groups was for the participants to discuss and reflect on their experiences and to identify the factors that framed those experiences and perceptions. The three groups of eight participants from each of the following: the final year students (n=32), the on-site clinical educators who had supervised final year students (n=43) and from the university clinical educators (n=12), were invited to participate.

Data from the focus groups were analysed within and across the focus groups using open and then axial coding.  Three themes emerged.  This paper only reports on the code: Reluctant Clinical Educators within Theme 2: Challenges to quality.

Reluctant Clinical educators were highlighted in each focus group and the impact of this reluctance on clinical education is described.

Key words: quality of clinical education, poor role models, time, students as learners

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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