USE OF SERVICE LEARNING IN AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY PROGRAM
The University of Findlay (UNITED STATES)
Service learning as a strategy for learning in occupational therapy programs has become increasing prevalent in entry level curriculums across the United States. The University of Findlay began using service learning in it upper level courses over ten years ago. As the benefits of this type of learning to help students become more culturally aware and sensitivet became clear, service learning strategies were further infused into the rest of the curriculum. Faculty in the program have now developed a thread of service learning activities that begins in the first professional year of the program and is continued into the second and third years of the professional program. Objectives for the courses that are reinforced by service learning experiences include: the therapeutic use of self, values, communication style, client-centered care and cultural competence. Students are asked to reflect on the identification of their own culture and its influence on behavior which contributes to self-awareness as the first step toward cultural competence. Students increase their knowledge of diversity and cultural issues and the meaning of client-centered care. The relationship among therapeutic use of self, cultural competence, and the role of occupational therapy are examined and expanded upon in the sequential coursework of the curriculum. Concurrent course content assists students in understanding the specific needs of diverse populations related to living with a disability, sexuality and disability, and dealing with the process of dying.
This presentation examines the barriers and limitations as well as benefits of implementing service learning to improve student's cultural competence.in an entry level masters of occupational therapy curriculum.