Abstract

Objective. This article links two dimensions of occupational therapy within the context of professionalism: the role of caring and the implications of occupational therapy being a predominantly female profession.

Method. Seven occupational therapists representing various levels of professional experience were interviewed to determine (a) how female occupational therapists perceive caring and (b) the implications of this perception for professional role definitions.

Results. Participants’ daily professional work role was determined by three factors: the interpretation of holistic philosophy in their everyday activities as occupational therapists, the influence of their caring attitude in broadening their responsibilities beyond the occupational therapists’ role definition, and the organizational settings in which their work took place.

Conclusion. The seven participants had a broad definition of the scope of their professional responsibilities and experienced difficulty defining the limits of their role. Caring is a central part of the occupational therapists’ role; therefore, perceptions about caring are central to the role definition of occupational therapists.

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