Exploring Students’ Experiences in Occupational Therapy Education: A Phenomenological Study of Professional Identity Development

Ndaa, P. O.
Wimpenny, K.
Khanna, R.
Goodman, S.
Bello, A. I.
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NOVA SouthEastern University
Peer reviewed
The existing literature on professional identity enactment and development, subscribes to students’ socializing in a learning environment, where they regularly encounter practicing professionals throughout their education period. However, in most countries with less resourced occupational therapists like Ghana, education in occupational therapy is fraught with inadequate number of same professionals to mentor undergraduate occupational therapy students. The students are thus faced with serious dilemma regarding their professional identity which tends to elicit a bleak perception of their chosen career. The present study was therefore envisaged to interpret and analyse the students’ lived experiences, with the view to capture the process of constructing and developing professional identity. The study focused on purposively sampled group of nine undergraduate occupational therapy students during their practice placement education, and their learning styles on didactic lectures. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was adopted for the study. The students were followed up throughout their four-year study program for data collection, using one-to-one semi-structured interviews each year. With reference to the threshold concepts, transcribed interview data were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological procedures. The study established a transformational development of professional identity from the novice stage into graduate professionals, amidst complex interaction of co-constructed themes which included: personal knowing, professional knowing and experiential knowing.
open access article
professional identity, learning environment, learning experience, threshold concepts, occupational therapy, professional socialization, phenomenology
Ndaa, P. O., Wimpenny, K., Khanna, R., Goodman, S., and Bello, A. I. (2022) Exploring Students’ Experiences in Occupational Therapy Education: A Phenomenological Study of Professional Identity Development. The Qualitative Report, 27 (1), pp. 44-63
Research Institute
Institute for Psychological Science