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Hanson, Debra Jane Adele; Ph.D.
Program of Education;
College of Human Development and Education; North Dakota State University
March 2009

The Professional Identity of Occupational Therapist:  Construction, Enactment and Valued Supports       

Major Professor: Dr. Kathy Enger


This research study was conducted for the purpose of examining the construction and enactment of professional identity of occupational therapists employed in medical settings.  Using a grounded theory approach, the study addressed the following broadly stated questions:  (a) What constructs are used by occupational therapists in hospital settings to define occupational therapy?  (b) How do hospital-based therapists construct individual professional identity?  (c) What factors influence the enacted of individual professional identity in hospital-based occupational therapy practice?  (d) What supports are identified by therapists as helpful to construction and enactment of professional identity?


A combination of sampling methods 9nomination and purposive) was used to select 12 occupational therapists for personal interviews>  Data were analyzed using the constant comparison method of emergent categories beginning with open coding and continuing with axial and selective coding.


The following conclusions are supported by the study:  (a) the concepts and constructs informing occupational therapy practice are reflective of ideas emphasized in the educational context and mediated by the medical practice context; (b) the temporal, physical, and reimbursement realities of the medical setting direct practice towards remediation of underlying impairment and development of self-care competencies; (c) the social context of the medical setting is critical to developing the language, knowledge, skills and resulting professional boundaries of the practice culture; (d) holistic therapy services are provided in a clandestine fashion; (e) with practice experience and opportunity for reflection, client-centered and occupation-based practice ideals can be incorporated into everyday practice activities: (f) research evidence, supportive leadership and enhanced communication between healthcare disciplines are valued for increasing the visibility of occupational therapy services.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Last Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011 11:51:53 AM