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A comparison of international occupational therapy competencies: Implications for Australian standards in the new millennium

Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.
Australian Occupational Therapy Journal (Impact Factor: 0.83). 12/2009; 56(6):372-83. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1630.2009.00808.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A timely evaluation of the Australian Competency Standards for Entry-Level Occupational Therapists (1994) was conducted. This thorough investigation comprised a literature review exploring the concept of competence and the applications of competency standards; systematic benchmarking of the Australian Occupational Therapy Competency Standards (OT AUSTRALIA, 1994) against other national and international competency standards and other affiliated documents, from occupational therapy and other cognate disciplines; and extensive nationwide consultation with the professional community. This paper explores and examines the similarities and disparities between occupational therapy competency standards documents available in English from Australia and other countries.
An online search for national occupational therapy competency standards located 10 documents, including the Australian competencies.
Four 'frameworks' were created to categorise the documents according to their conceptual underpinnings: Technical-Prescriptive, Enabling, Educational and Meta-Cognitive. Other characteristics that appeared to impact the design, content and implementation of competency standards, including definitions of key concepts, authorship, national and cultural priorities, scope of services, intended use and review mechanisms, were revealed.
The proposed 'frameworks' and identification of influential characteristics provided a 'lens' through which to understand and evaluate competency standards. While consistent application of and attention to some of these characteristics appear to consolidate and affirm the authority of competency standards, it is suggested that the national context should be a critical determinant of the design and content of the final document. The Australian Occupational Therapy Competency Standards (OT AUSTRALIA, 1994) are critiqued accordingly, and preliminary recommendations for revision are proposed.

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    ABSTRACT: This paper summarises results from an evaluation of the adequacy and utility of the Australian Competency Standards for Entry-Level Occupational Therapists (OT AUSTRALIA, 1994a). It comprised a two-part study, incorporating an online survey of key national stakeholders (n = 26), and 13 focus groups (n = 152) conducted throughout Australia with occupational therapy clinicians, academics, OT AUSTRALIA association and Occupational Therapy Registration Board representatives, as well as university program accreditors. The key recommendations were that: (i) urgent revision to reflect contemporary practice, paradigms, approaches and frameworks is required; (ii) the standards should exemplify basic competence at graduation (not within two years following); (iii) a revision cycle of five years is required; (iv) the Australian Qualifications Framework should be retained, preceded by an introduction describing the scope and nature of occupational therapy practice in the national context; (v) access to the standards should be free and unrestricted to occupational therapists, students and the public via the OT AUSTRALIA (national) website; (vi) the standards should incorporate a succinct executive summary and additional tools or templates formatted to enable occupational therapists to develop professional portfolios and create working documents specific to their workplace; and (vii) language must accommodate contextual variation while striking an appropriate balance between providing instruction and encouraging innovation in practice.
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