Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Cooper

Second Advisor

Debra Lindstrom-Hazel

Third Advisor

Dr. Ben Atchison

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Literature shows evidence of a shift in occupational therapy from traditional institutional settings to community-based settings. As increasing numbers of new and expert occupational therapists enter community-based practice, the need for competency identification for practice, education, and reimbursement becomes paramount. This qualitative research study sought to identify domains and competencies of community-based occupational therapy practice by interviewing three expert occupational therapists using the critical incident method in which each therapist described one therapeutic intervention with a client. This method, as seen in nursing studies (Benner, 1982, 1984), serves to elicit competencies embedded in expert practice. Thirty-nine competencies were described in these interviews which were clustered into five domains: (1) content-related knowledge, (2) interpersonal skills, (3) educational pathways, (4) clinical reasoning, and (5) spirit of community. The five domains and thirty-nine competencies described in this study can critically impact the education and training of occupational therapy professionals for entry into community-based practice.