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Factors affecting job enrichment and professional competence in occupational therapy

Millsteed, Jeannine (1992) Factors affecting job enrichment and professional competence in occupational therapy. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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This exploratory study was in response to a number of issues which occupational therapists have raised about themselves as professionals and the profession generally. A recurring issue relates to their claims that universities do not equip graduates with the "right" knowledge and skills for practice. This is interpreted to mean that universities emphasise the learning of academic, rather than practical knowledge and skills.

However, it is not clear what constitutes useful and relevant knowledge and skills for practice, where these are best learnt , and in what contexts. This study sought to establish some insights and understandings about why occupational therapists are disenchanted with the education they receive at university and their apparent reluctance to further their education beyond the basic degree level. This was done by identifying and analysing the range of dilemmas occupational therapists encounter in professional practice.

Participants were occupational therapists from a number of different work settings; with a wide range of professional experience; and who live in either Perth or a regional town of Western Australia. The principles and processes of grounded theory guided the systematic analysis of the dilemmas therapists experienced in practice. Six factors which affect job enrichment and professional performance were identified - meaningfulness of work; responsibility for outcomes of work; knowledge of the results of work activities; balance in roles; self image; and autonomy. Further to these six factors the study found that most occupational therapists feel isolated in practice, regardless of whether they work alone or with others, in a large traditional organisation or for a geographically isolated service.

The study concludes, if educators acknowledge the factors which affect job enrichment and professional competence they will be better positioned to develop alternative ways to meet the learning needs of undergraduate and graduate students. This includes an adoption of relevant philosophies and approaches for student learning to appropriately equip them with knowledge and skills for self-directed and life-long learning.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Volet, Simone and Collins, Cherry
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