Occupational Therapy Practice Patterns In Two Rural States: Does The College Experience Influence Rural Employment Choice?

Debra J. Hanson, Janet S Jedlicka, Nicole C. Harris, Marilyn G. Klug
2018 Journal of Occupational Therapy Education  
An online survey was conducted of 225 occupational therapy (OT) practitioners living in the rural states of North Dakota and Wyoming to explore practice patterns and the influence of the college experience on employment choice. Findings showed that rural practitioners had greater variability of hours spent working (5.5 more hours per week, p=.028), and one more work location on average (p=.006). Therapists in urban settings spent 15% more time in fieldwork education than their rural
more » ... (p=.021). Rural practice choice was influenced by participation in Level I and Level II fieldwork (p=.002) but not by loan debt. Study implications for academic programs include focusing on multiple areas of practice in the curriculum design, and exposure of students to rural practitioners and rural practice examples/experiences. Recommendations were made for rural fieldwork educator training and employer support of rural fieldwork education. Further study of the experience of working within a rural practice context as a student and OT practitioner are recommended, including variables impacting rural practitioner work with fieldwork students, and student interest in rural fieldwork placement. ABSTRACT An online survey was conducted of 225 occupational therapy (OT) practitioners living in the rural states of North Dakota and Wyoming to explore practice patterns and the influence of the college experience on employment choice. Findings showed that rural practitioners had greater variability of hours spent working (5.5 more hours per week, p=.028), and one more work location on average (p=.006). Therapists in urban settings spent 15% more time in fieldwork education than their rural counterparts (p=.021). Rural practice choice was influenced by participation in Level I and Level II fieldwork (p=.002) but not by loan debt. Study implications for academic programs include focusing on multiple areas of practice in the curriculum design, and exposure of students to rural practitioners and rural practice examples/experiences. Recommendations were made for rural fieldwork educator training and employer support of rural fieldwork education. Further study of the experience of working within a rural practice context as a student and OT practitioner are recommended, including variables impacting rural practitioner work with fieldwork students, and student interest in rural fieldwork placement.
doi:10.26681/jote.2018.020307 fatcat:xlgcrq6zyza6dch6ex5fr36vbq