Purpose. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of an international education experience on participants’ self-perceived personal growth, international perspective, and intellectual development using a modified version of the International Education Survey (IES). Method. Seventy-one participants, representing occupational therapy practitioners and students from multiple universities, completed the survey. Results. Mean scores were highest for impact in the area of International Perspectives (M= 5.32), followed by Personal Development (M=4.65), and Intellectual Development (M=4.05). Additionally, 100% of the participants responded that all university students should be encouraged to engage in international education experiences (M=6.66). Qualitative comments related to the impact of their experiences revealed increased awareness and appreciation for cultural differences, a feeling of personal growth, and a reshaping of both personal life priorities and professional responsibilities. Study limitations include the relatively small sample size, variability of length of participants’ international experience, as well the variability in the number of immersion experiences reported. Conclusions and Recommendations. Engaging students in international immersion experiences during academic preparation had a positive impact on participants’ self-perceived cultural competence. Future research should explore the impact of the length of time and number of international experiences on practitioners’ perceptions of cultural competence as well as the impact of immersion experiences on professional practice.

Author Bio(s)

Joyce Salls, OTD, OTR/L, Director, Occupational Therapy, Chatham University has 30+ years’ experience in occupational therapy. She has presented nationally and internationally on topics in pediatrics and education, and published in areas of school based practice and program outcomes. Dr. Salls has led service trips to Haiti, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Ingrid Provident, Ed.D, OTR/L FAOTA, Associate Professor, Post Professional OTD Coordinator, Chatham University has 30+ years of occupational therapy practice. She has presented nationally and internationally on professional transformation and educational practice, published in the areas of fieldwork and transformative learning, and led service trips to Kenya, Tanzania, and Ecuador.

Cathy Dolhi, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Faculty Emeritus, Chatham University has 35+ years’ experience in occupational therapy. Clinical specialties include spinal cord injuries, prosthetics, occupation-based practice, and client-centered care. She has presented and published on multiple clinical and administrative topics and is active in local, state, and national occupation therapy organizations.




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