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Amy Mattila, PhD, OTR/L


Today’s health care system requires therapists to acquire a level of confidence, flexibility, and personal growth that enables them to treat a diverse and complex clientele. Occupational therapy programs need to ensure that clinical placements can best prepare students for these demands. Community engaged learning (CEL) offers a distinctive opportunity both to meet the curricular requirements of fieldwork and to afford students the chance to develop unique sets of skills. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine the experiences of graduate occupational therapy students participating in CEL fieldwork placements. The study explored the students’ self-efficacy before and after placements and the transformative learning process that occurred. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews, pre/post surveys, and reflective journals. The findings resulted in eight major themes that revealed growth in self-efficacy and personal and professional development. The results indicated the influential impression CEL leaves on the development of the student and provides a potential solution for programs to meet the demands of the current health care climate.


The author reports that they have no conflicts of interest to disclose.