Abstract

Objectives. The development of occupational therapy leaders is a long-held goal of many members of the American Occupational Therapy Association and of state associations. The initiation of mentor programs is a common means to accomplish this goal. These programs take time and effort, and, although occupational therapists have described how mentorship programs work in the literature, there are few articles that describe the actual mentorship experiences of occupational therapy leaders.

Method. To study the experiences of elected occupational therapy leaders, a 30-item questionnaire was distributed at the annual meeting of the Committee of State Association Presidents and completed by 53 respondents. Results were analyzed, and cross tabulations were run between selected items.

Results. Respondents were frequently exposed to role models, were assisted by sponsors, were mentored by other occupational therapists, and served as mentors themselves. There was little evidence that the respondents were mentored by high-powered individuals who helped launch their careers.

Conclusion. More than half of the respondents were mentored by other occupational therapists, and only 29% of the respondents reported that they surpassed the status and position of their mentors. Plans to initiate mentorship programs should include activities that promote powerful leaders who move beyond the status and position of their mentors, so that occupational therapists can represent the interests of the profession to others.

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