Importance: Professionalism is a core attribute for competent occupational therapists, but teaching professionalism to students is challenging for educators.
Objective: To investigate whether students can expand their understanding of professionalism by engaging with international role models.
Setting: One academic institution in Hong Kong.
Participants: First-year students (N = 102) enrolled in an introductory occupational therapy course.
Intervention: An international role-modeling pedagogy was informally embedded into a course curriculum. Students were divided into 16 groups and collaboratively interviewed eight role models (academic theory or practice model developers) to understand their inspiration and ideas about occupational therapy competence.
Outcomes and Measures: In addition to pre- and postclass surveys, students completed individual self-reflection reports as a course assignment. A postsemester focus group was also held.
Results: Sixty-three students completed the surveys, and 5 attended the focus group. The students showed significant improvements in their understanding of professionalism after the course (Wilcoxon signed rank Zs = 5.671–6.766, p < .001). Interviewing the role models enabled the students to become more aware of intrinsic aspects of professionalism. Major themes in the student focus group included gaining a better understanding of professionalism and committing to personal change. Some implementation challenges were also experienced.
Conclusions and Relevance: International experts (theory or practice model developers) can be integrated into occupational therapy curricula as role models to enhance the teaching of professionalism to students.
What This Article Adds: Interviewing international role models who have developed theories or practice models can enhance student learning in the area of professionalism and complement traditional approaches to clinical education.