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Abstract

Purpose: Despite increasing numbers of novice occupational therapists (OTs) and physiotherapists (PTs) entering work-related practice since the early 2000s, clinical learning opportunities are often limited due to legal and insurance issues. In response, clinical educators at The University of Queensland, Australia, developed an industry consultancy service to provide clinical learning for students in this field. Students delivered injury prevention services with supervision from experienced educators. This paper describes the program and an evaluation of student learning. Method: Twenty-six students (10 OTs and 16 PTs) participated voluntarily in an evaluation of the program during 2008 and 2009. Surveys pre and post-placement included open and closed questions that sought students’ knowledge of work-related practice and perceptions of practitioner roles. Knowledge was assessed with 20 questions on work-related practice. Differences in knowledge before and after the placement were analysed with non-parametric statistics. Open ended responses were subject to manual thematic analysis. Results: Students demonstrated a good understanding of the roles and tasks undertaken by practitioners in this field pre-placement. Their knowledge of work-related practice significantly increased following the placement (p<0.05). Half of the students reported that their expectations for the placement had been met. Open ended responses provided students’ perceptions of the program, both positive and negative. Conclusions: This clinical learning experience in work-related practice for OT and PT students provided a novel practical experience. Students demonstrated a good understanding of professional roles in the field and post-placement increased their understanding of work-related practice. The model provided a valuable method that ensures OT and PT students experienced work-related practice prior to graduation.

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