Internalizing Client-Centredness in Occupational Therapy Students

Jacquie Ripat, Pamela Wener, Kendra Dobinson, Cynthia Yamamoto


Background: Pre-licensure interprofessional education prepares students for collaborative client-centred practice. However, most interprofessional educational efforts are aimed at developing the collaborative component of practice. The purpose of this article is to share the findings of a study that explored occupational therapy students’ client-centred development, in order to inform other pre-licensure educators about integrating client-centredness into uni- and interprofessional education contexts.

Methods and Findings: Twenty-nine participants were recruited from each of three stages assumed to be representative of occupational therapy client-centred development in each of the two years of the educational program and during the first year of practice. Semi-structured focus groups were used to capture the participants’ experiences. The core emergent theme, internalizing client-centredness, included three main processes: identifying occupational therapy as a client-centred profession, engaging in the push and pull of client-centredness, and defining self as a client-centred practitioner.

Conclusions: Educators of pre-licensure health care students should deliberately focus on client-centredness in their uni- and interprofessional education curricula; the authors offer examples of curricular opportunities focused on internalizing client-centredness. Enabling health care students to internalize client-centredness may be an important aspect of developing practitioners who are prepared to enact interprofessional collaboration for client-centred practice.


Client-centredness; Pre-licensure education: Interprofessional education; Qualitative study

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