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Research Article  |   September 1999
Perceptions of Occupational Therapists Regarding Postprofessional Education
Author Affiliations
  • Anne E. Dickerson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Chair and Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, East Carolina University, Belk 306, Greenville, North Carolina 27858; dickersona@mail.ecu.edu
  • Peggy Prince Wittman, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina; wittmanm@mail.ecu.edu
Article Information
Education
Research Article   |   September 1999
Perceptions of Occupational Therapists Regarding Postprofessional Education
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 1999, Vol. 53, 454-458. doi:10.5014/ajot.53.5.454
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 1999, Vol. 53, 454-458. doi:10.5014/ajot.53.5.454
Abstract

Objective. The purpose of this study was to determine how occupational therapists perceive postprofessional education, specifically the reasons for pursuing or not pursuing graduate education, as well as to examine the factors that seem most important.

Method. Seven hundred and fifty members of the American Occupational Therapy Association who did not have advanced degrees were surveyed. Respondents were asked why they did or did not want to pursue postprofessional education and, for those respondents interested in graduate study, what factors were most important. The important factors were examined across the levels of age, years of experience, practice areas, and regions.

Results. Surveys were returned by 314 members (a response rate of 42%), with 22% indicating interest in postprofessional education and 78% indicating no interest. For reasons not to pursue postprofessional education, respondents indicated that they were not interested in returning to intensive coursework and that a higher degree would not help in the advancement of their career. The two major reasons for pursuing graduate education included personal development and to increase skills and knowledge. As age increased, interest in graduate school decreased; interest was highest in the 3–6 years of experience range. Practice-specific programs was the area of specialization most desired; other important factors were cost of program and clinical work emphasized.

Conclusion.Results suggested that a relatively low number of occupational therapists consider pursuing postprofessional education. Thus, if graduate education is essential for the advancement of the profession, emphasis must be on clarifying the need for and value of postprofessional education.