Abstract

Objective. Occupational therapy practitioners must meet ever-increasing accountability demands in all service delivery environments. Accountability is made possible through the ongoing development of continued competence through out a practitioner’s career. Behaviors that demonstrate accountability and reflect competence include commitment, leadership, and professional knowledge. This article discusses issues related to accountability and competence, presents findings from focus group discussions with occupational therapy practitioners regarding professional competence, and identifies actions that will bring about greater understanding of this topic.

Method. Thirty-nine randomly selected occupational therapy practitioners attended one of two focus groups. Participants responded to a structured discussion guide, including questions addressing the definition, process for sustaining, and outcomes of continued competence.

Results. Several themes emerged from these discussions. Views about what constitutes and contributes to continued competence in occupational therapy were diverse, and perceptions of occupational therapy “practice” were broad. Participants believed that the “outcomes” of a practitioner’s continued competence were best defined as autonomy in executing the occupational therapy process.

Conclusions. Findings offer potential language to articulate competence in occupational therapy and facilitate a discipline-wide conversation. The findings likewise challenge practitioners to assume new professional behaviors that require both personal and interpersonal skills. Such behaviors are critical to demonstrating accountability and competence.

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