Promoting staff development in occupational therapy: a reflective group approach

Errington, Edward P., and Robertson, Linda J. (1998) Promoting staff development in occupational therapy: a reflective group approach. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61 (11). pp. 497-503.

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Staff development is a vital aspect of professional practice. It enables occupational therapists to observe latest practice and upgrade standards appropriately. Staff development opportunities often ensure that practitioners have access to theoretical knowledge as the basis for improving practice. This approach may be ineffective or minimally effective if it provides only theoretical professional knowledge and is not integrated into everyday practice. A more productive staff development procedure involves an exploration of practical knowledge. This is not theoretical knowledge about practice, but the kind embedded in practice. Such practical theories gained through reflective processes may be discussed informally during workplace interactions but rarely are opportunities available for therapists to articulate these in a systematic way.

Given the above, this paper reports on the procedures of a staff development research project which engaged a sample of practising occupational therapists from the Dunedin community in a process of reflective group practice. The project focused on two main questions: what are the issues that influence practice? And are the uses of reflective peer groups an effective staff development strategy?

Two themes emerged from the investigation, the first being that practice is fraught with uncertainties and the second that the aims of occupational therapists are not necessarily supported by other health team members. These two themes highlight the notion that occupational therapists cannot rely on theoretical knowledge, alone prior to graduation and that practical knowledge plays a substantial part in their learning. The use of reflective groups was endorsed by all participants as a viable method of staff development. The reported effectiveness was in facilitating change at various levels: simple raising of awareness; encounters with ideas of others different from one's own; stated intention to change practice in light of new insights; and reports of actual changes because of group insights.

Item ID: 11841
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0308-0226
Keywords: staff development, occupational therapy, reflective peer groups
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2010 03:16
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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