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Research Article  |   January 2001
From Student to Therapist: Exploring the First Year of Practice
Author Affiliations
  • Joyce Tryssenaar, MEd, BScOT, is Associate Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University, Building T-16, 1280 Main Street W., Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada; tryssen@fhs.mcmaster.ca
  • Janice Perkins, MSc, PT, is Assistant Professor, School of Physical Therapy, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Article Information
Education of OTs and OTAs / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / School-Based Practice / Professional Development
Research Article   |   January 2001
From Student to Therapist: Exploring the First Year of Practice
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2001, Vol. 55, 19-27. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.1.19
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2001, Vol. 55, 19-27. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.1.19
Abstract

Objectives.The transition from classroom to clinical practice challenges many health professional students. This study used a phenomenological approach to explore the lived experience of rehabilitation students during their final placement and first year of practice.

Method.Students (n = 6) in occupational therapy and physical therapy wrote reflective journals every 2 weeks during their final fieldwork placement and first year of practice. The researchers independently analyzed the journals for common themes. An independent peer completed a blind analysis of two journals. Data were also compared with published first-person accounts of novice practitioners.

Results.The lived experience of the first year of practice included four consecutive stages: Transition, Euphoria and Angst, Reality of Practice, and Adaptation. Themes from the journals included great expectations, competence, politics, shock, education, and strategies.

Conclusion.Recognizing the stages in the process of transition from student to therapist may assist in educational curriculum development and clinical support and supervision for new graduates. Educators need to continue to make education practice relevant while maintaining a theoretical perspective.