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Aust Occup Ther J. 2011 Jun;58(3):195-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1630.2010.00903.x. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

What makes a quality occupational therapy practice placement? Students' and practice educators' perspectives.

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Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.



Practice placement experiences are crucial to enable students to integrate theory with practice, demonstrate professional and interpersonal skills and build confidence in their practice skills. This study addressed practice educators' and students' perspectives regarding quality practice placement experiences.


In total 29 students, 41 practice educators and eight practice education staff members across three Queensland universities participated in focus groups or individual interviews (N=78) focusing on their views about quality learning experiences on placements.


Key themes described university preparation and processes, a welcoming learning environment, detailed orientation and clear expectations, graded program of learning experiences, quality modelling and practice, consistent approach and expectations, quality feedback, open and honest relationships and supervisor experience and skills. These findings were consistent with research previously undertaken in Australia and Canada that had investigated either student or practice educator perspectives.


This article synthesises the perspectives of these stakeholder groups and has led to the development of quality indicators across the phases of placement establishment, preparation, maintenance and review. Although having sufficient placements can be challenging for university programmes, ensuring that the experiences provided are of high quality is also important and requires significant attention by university academics and practice education staff, practice educators, managers and practice organisations alike.

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