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