Occupational therapy is a practice that assists people to participate in day-to-day activities (occupations). Occupational therapists who are based in schools usually work together with academic professionals to assist students to participate effectively in their educational activities. Occupation therapy should be studied in academic institutions to enable students to make appropriate choice for future career. Relationship between education and research can be enhanced through combining academics with occupation therapy, as research demonstrates a thorough study of a subject. Health literacy is essential for students who wish to serve people with disabilities in community. Students can also utilize scoping review to gain more understanding on occupational therapy, rather than relying only on occupational therapy educators. Combining occupation therapy with academic will enhance professional identity, as students will get an opportunity to evaluate professional needs. This study will focus on the benefits of integrating academics with occupational therapy within the classroom.
Combining academics with occupational therapy is essential in shaping students’ future careers. Academic professionals have a duty to assist students to gain experience on clinical applications and theories to enhance students’ ability to offer client-centered practice. According to Knecht-Sabres (2013), the process of engaging students in the basic understanding of clinical theories toward advanced application of such theories requires rated instruction and feedback, careful selection of suitable teaching methods, and encouragement of sound independent decision-making. Experiential learning is quite effective in enhancing the understanding, as well as application of knowledge from various fields. Thus, students can utilize experiential learning to expand their skills in occupational therapy and to enhance their dexterity in clinical reasoning. Several academic programs that focus on occupational therapy have revised their curricula to correspond to the current accreditation standards, in addition to enabling students to enhance their capacity to attain their career needs for the future patient-care.
Another important benefit accrued from incorporating intellectuality with occupational therapy is to enhance relationship between education and research. One of the strategies that occupation therapy requires to meet is to create a linkage between education and research as this form of linkage is likely to enhance evidence-based professionalism among occupation therapy students. Thus, specialized knowledge and proficiency in mental health, as well as interventions in occupational therapy practices are necessary in occupational therapy profession (Hartmann, Nadeau & Tufano, 2013). Occupational therapy services are vital in the endorsement of psychological, as well as social attributes of mental health. Educating students on occupational therapy will enhance their well-being and encourage personal development. Students can exercise knowledge in occupational therapy to promote quality of life among members of society.
Health literacy involves the ability to access, assess, and communicate knowledge in order to promote an improve health among members of community. In the education setting, health literacy focuses on introducing new dimensions to influence health choices, which individuals make for themselves, as well as for others in the society. According to Levasseur and Carrier (2012), health literacy is essential in occupational therapy, as it enables individuals to develop control over their health, in addition to increase the likelihood of improving their health-related living conditions. Occupational therapists are involved in offering specific knowledge that is necessary for tackling health literacy challenges. Levasseur and Carrier have provided several ways of assimilating health literacy into the program of occupational therapy, which include intervening to enhance client’s literacy, and to standardize occupational therapy practice to fit health literacy.
Every type of study usually focuses on advancing its wealth of knowledge in order to remain relevant and to assist students in shaping their future careers. Scoping review is part of gaining knowledge concerning a specific topic with an aim of excelling in a given profession. According to McKinstry, Brown and Gustafsson (2014), scoping review helps in identifying research gaps and offers a summary of existing evidence to researchers and practitioners. Scoping review works systematically to assist researchers in various academic fields, including occupational therapy, to synthesize evidence. Occupational therapists can utilize a scoping review as a substitute to systematic review in any research. Thus, scoping review can assist academic professionals to educate students on occupational therapy, as it enhances transparency and trustworthiness in research. This type of review can also assist clinicians to access synthesized information necessary for developing professional practice.
Students who are exposed to occupational therapy have the capacity to exercise such skills in their future professions, thus, occupational therapy is essential career development. Occupational therapy educators are encouraged to offer students appropriate learning experience that will prepare them to become the future therapists in social care (Dancza, et al., 2013). Occupational therapy educators play a large role in offering practical experience to students compared to the ordinary teachers, who only offer theoretical aspect of occupational therapy. However, role-placements are also available where occupational therapists’ roles are not defined. Occupational therapists may not have all the time they require to instill students with the appropriate experience, hence, role emerging placements become necessary to teach students on client needs.
Students participate in occupation therapy programs to enhance their knowledge and professionalism. Educating students on occupation therapy will enable them develop skills necessary for professional identity (Turpin, Rodger & Hall, 2012). Through academic engagement, students understand why, how, and what occupation therapists do in their profession. To attain desired outcomes in occupational therapy practice, professional identity is required in order to adapt to occupational therapy effectively. Occupation therapy students’ perceptions about occupational therapy are generally higher than that of the public because they are more exposed to educational materials than the public. Thus, exposure to education is essential in developing attitude towards occupation therapy.
Boruff and Thomas (2011) have offered the least important aspect in occupational therapy by stating that exposure to evidence-based practice (EBP) is essential in promoting the growth of baseline knowledge that students require in the professional programs. They argued that EBP is vital in training on occupational therapy, as well as information literacy skills. Healthcare professionals, which include occupational therapists, are expected to maintain a large portion of biomedical literature to engage students in professional best practices. Students usually find library instructions to be useful particularly when implemented according to their ideal teaching styles and expectations. Occupational therapists are utilized in rehabilitation in various educational institutions since they have specific competence to offer a significant contribution toward health literacy challenges. Occupational therapy programs in the US are designed with instructions to enhance knowledge, skills, and approach for entry-level EBP. Such instructions are necessary to students who aspire to build their occupation in clinical practice. Collaborating academics with occupational therapy has opened up potential to develop more skills in occupational therapy in educational institutions.
Students who are classified as “at risk” or diagnosed with learning disabilities may also possess the desire to attain higher education goals and secure attractive jobs. Such students need knowledge in occupational therapy so that they can handle their daily tasks with ease. Thus, intervention to support students to ensure high performance requires best practice occupational therapy (Rens & Joosten, 2014). Developing efficient occupational therapy in schools depends on the quality of intervention, as well as strategies necessary to facilitate students’ occupational roles in their daily activities. Collaboration of teachers and occupational therapists is significant for students to have the opportunity to access occupational therapy within the school environment.
In conclusion, occupation therapy should be integrated in academics to facilitate search for knowledge and molding a career in occupation therapy practices. Educating students on occupational therapy can assist them to change perception about mental illnesses and disability. An occupational therapist student should possess personal skills, which include patience, creativity, determination, and responsibility, in order to develop positive perception about the profession. Common occupational therapy interventions may include assisting disabled children to participate in school activities, helping sick students to recover from injuries and to regain skills, and assisting adult learners to regain their cognitive capability.
Boruff, J. T., & Thomas, A. (2011). Integrating evidence-based practice and information literacy skills in teaching physical and occupational therapy students. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 28(4), 264-272. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2011.00953.x
Dancza, K., Warren, A., Copley, J., Rodger, S., Moran, M., McKay, E., & Taylor, A. (2013). Learning experiences on role-emerging placements: An exploration from the students’ perspective. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 60(6), 427-435. doi:10.1111/1440-1630.12079
Hartmann, K. D., Nadeau, B., & Tufano, R. (2013). Clinical experiences to promote student education of psychological and social aspects of mental health: A case report. Work, 44(3), 329-335.
Knecht-Sabres, L. J. (2013). Experiential Learning in Occupational Therapy: Can It Enhance Readiness for Clinical Practice?. Journal of Experiential Education, 36(1), 22-36.
Levasseur, M., & Carrier, A. (2012). Integrating health literacy into occupational therapy: Findings from a scoping review. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 19(4), 305-314. doi:10.3109/11038128.2011.588724
McKinstry, C., Brown, T., & Gustafsson, L. (2014). Scoping reviews in occupational therapy: The what, why, and how to. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 61(2), 58-66. doi:10.1111/1440-1630.12080