The Lived Experience of Occupational Therapists Who Supervise Students With Disabilities
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Occupational therapy in Canada has affirmed that people with disabilities have the right to equitable participation in occupational therapy education. Yet students with disabilities have difficulties as they progress through the programs, especially during fieldwork. This qualitative study explored the lived experience of occupational therapists who have supervised occupational therapy students with disabilities in a fieldwork setting. Using Qualitative Interpretive Description, seven therapists were interviewed about their supervisory experiences. Four themes emerged: variability of administration, perceptions of disability, the complexities of disclosure, and tensions between being an educator and being an OT. Preceptors had divergent experiences of student assignments. Preceptors were deeply committed to educating students, yet distrusted accommodations, fueling perceptions of students with disabilities as safety risks. Clearer attention to environment and occupation in fieldwork sites could lower the distrust. Educational programs could work with preceptors for clarity on learning objectives and standards, while implementing accommodations.