Purpose: This qualitative study aimed to examine the perceived benefits of international travel for occupational therapy practitioners who have traveled internationally during their occupational therapy education or career. To succeed, healthcare professionals must have various personal and clinical skills, including providing quality care to diverse populations. They must have cultural competence, which includes cultural humility and cultural sensitivity. Methods: A purposive, convenience sampling was used through a network of occupational therapy practitioners who had previously traveled abroad either as occupational therapy students or as licensed occupational therapists and participated in education, clinical experience, work experiences, or volunteer experience related to occupational therapy. Individually, eight participants meeting the criteria were asked 12 open-ended questions through virtual interviews focused on the potential impact of international travel on developing and enhancing personal and professional competencies. The research team transcribed, coded, and placed responses into categories to create significant themes. Results: Four major themes were identified: (1) personal growth; (2) professional growth; (3) application to occupational therapy practice; and 4) increased cultural awareness. Conclusions: Through international travel, healthcare professionals may gain a more global perspective, improve cultural sensitivity and cultural humility, increase flexibility in practice to improve client outcomes with limited physical and financial resources, and strengthen the desire to participate in advocacy efforts. Although the cost may be a barrier to requiring travel for higher-education students, innovative funding may help create opportunities to serve client needs better.

Author Bio(s)

Rebecca L. Mannel, OTD, MOT, OTR is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at Stockton University. She earned her occupational therapy degrees from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. She has experience teaching Mental Health, Clinical Conditions, and Research and runs a supported education program at Stockton University.

Jennifer Calabrese, OTD, MOT, OTR received her PPOTD from Chatham University. She is an Assistant Professor at Stockton University with experience teaching research and Neuroscience, serving as academic support coordinator, and founding Capstone coordinator. Her publications focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning and helping students improve soft skills.

Megan Pappan, MS, OTR/L is an Adjunct Professor and received both degrees at Stockton University. In addition to pediatric practice, she coordinates an international program between Stockton University, Universidad del Rosario, and Escuela Colombiana de Rehabilitacion. She has volunteered as an occupational therapist in Accra, Ghana and Bogota, Colombia.

Anthony Dissen, EdD, MPH, MA, RDN, CPH is a tenured Instructor of Health Science at Stockton University. His areas of expertise are plant based nutrition and culinary medicine, motivation to behavior changes in nutrition and eating habits, compassion and self-improvement promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyle habits.


Acknowledgments: De-Anna Davis, American OTS; Sofia Garcia Morales, Colombian OTS; Melanie Mendez Martinez, Colombian OTS; Laura Guerrero Martinez, Colombian OTS; Gabrielle Petrucelli, American OTS; Theresa Sanzone, American OTS


Submission Location


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