CAOT Position Statement
Continuing Professional Education (2011)
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It is the position of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) that continuing professional education is essential for the personal and professional development of occupational therapists and for advancement of the profession of occupational therapy. In accordance with the mission of the Association to advance excellence in occupational therapy, CAOT recognizes that access to, and acquisition of, current relevant and evidence-based knowledge, skills, and behaviours are the key to the development and use of best practices in occupational therapy.
Recommendations for occupational therapists
1. Occupational therapists engage in evidence-based continuing education activities and programs for the acquisition and transfer of knowledge to practice.
2. Occupational therapists ensure awareness of and compliance with regulatory requirements for learning and professional development.
3. Occupational therapists recognize practice experience as a basis for learning and engage in self-directed and lifelong learning through reflective practices.
4. Occupational therapists are provided with adequate resources and support to allow participation in continuing professional development.
5. Occupational therapists participate in informal and/or formal learning networks as opportunities to communicate, contribute, and collaborate as a means to integrate evidence-based knowledge and skills into practice.
6. Occupational therapists engage in mentoring and educational activities such as supervising students on fieldwork placements as appropriate.
To promote continuing professional education in occupational therapy, CAOT will:
1. Provide occupational therapists with access to learning and best practice resources with products, services, and delivery options that are relevant, current, cost-effective, and appropriate for member’s needs.
2. Facilitate, support and/or sponsor diverse continuing professional education activities to meet changing and emerging practice needs and environments.
3. Develop and maintain a national database to assist occupational therapists in identifying continuing professional education resources for their learning needs.
4. Facilitate access to research-based evidence to assist with acquiring new knowledge and to facilitate integration of research into practice.
5. Pursue partnerships (e.g. with affiliate occupational therapy organizations, government, professional and consumer associations, and health organizations) to develop and sponsor continuing education products and services that meet member learning needs.
1. The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) provides services, products, events and networking opportunities to assist occupational therapists achieve excellence in their professional practice. In accordance with the CAOT’s mission to advance excellence in occupational therapy, CAOT recognizes that access to and the continuous acquisition of knowledge is the key to evidenced-informed decision–making in building capacity and enabling best practices in occupational therapy. Resources available on www.caot.ca are designed to advance excellence in occupational therapy by providing collaborative efforts for knowledge transfer, development of sustainable relationships, and current information that supports evidence-informed practice.
CAOT recognizes individual participation in continuing education is a professional responsibility (CAOT, 2012). There are many reasons for participation in continuing education including professional advancement, employer obligations, regulatory requirements for professional growth and competency, and personal interest. The ultimate goal of continuing education for occupational therapists is to maximize the well-being of those for whom the therapist is professionally responsible (Harvey, 1983). Continuing professional education allows therapists to remain abreast of current information, avoid information obsolescence, and thus, provide improved service to the public, as well as demonstrate the profession of occupational therapy is capable and committed to self-improvement and self-regulation (Hobson, 1990). Continuing education assists the individual professional by maintaining and increasing competence in the rapidly changing fields of health and social services and may prevent being the subject of a civil lawsuit or investigation by a regulatory body (Cosman & Heinz 1995). Finally, improved competency benefits not only the therapist but also employers and the profession as a whole to ensure continued effectiveness and viability of occupational therapy practice.
2. Continuing professional education is concerned primarily with personal and professional development and is deemed necessary by advances in knowledge (Jarvis, 1995). Occupational therapists are required to engage in professional development to ensure competency (Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations, 2011). The development of a continuing education plan is a responsibility which rests with the individual professional and is planned in order to reflect individual needs, interests and learning skills (Campbell & Pasemko, 1985; Madill, 1984). The plan is based on assessed professional needs, participation in appropriate continuing education opportunities, evaluation of the appropriateness of the education plan for learning needs and the application and transfer of new knowledge, skills, and relevant information to practice (CAOT, 2012).
3. Reflection on professional practice experiences is an essential component of continuing professional education (Kinsella, 2000).Occupational therapists are required to be self-directed in their learning activities and be able to relate new information to their own needs and experiences. For this reason, continuing education activities should be experiential in nature, problem-centred, and provide immediate relevance to occupational therapy practice (Knowles, 1984). With increased emphasis on the need to integrate evidence into practice, portfolios may be a means to document, reflect upon and use evidence gained through research, client and/or professional experience. Portfolios allow occupational therapists to “note questions about treatment efficacy, alternative approaches or other recurring issues” and highlight areas requiring evidence or further professional education (Bossers, Kernaghan, Merla, & Van Kessel, 1999, p. 13).
4. Experience is a valuable learning tool that can support occupational therapy students in their learning objectives. However, precepting occupational therapy students during their fieldwork placements is not only for students; it is another strategy to support continuing education for practicing occupational therapists. Providing teaching and mentoring students can serve as a catalyst for new and ongoing learning (Craik & Rappolt, 2006).
5. The Profile of occupational therapy practice in Canada (CAOT, 2012) provides a vision for practice and a model for excellence for occupational therapy. In pursuing the role as a Scholarly Practitioner, the Profile directs therapists to: conduct a regular assessment of personal learning needs, demonstrate lifelong learning skills and document a personal program to keep up-to-date and enhance areas of professional competence, regularly review new knowledge and determine applicability to practice, integrate new learning and evidence into practice, evaluate the impact of any change in practice, critically appraise best evidence in order to address client, service, or practice questions, and integrate critical appraisal conclusions into daily practice.
6. Learning formats, materials and activities should be designed to accommodate the wide range of occupational therapy backgrounds and experiences. CAOT recognizes there are many different strategies for continuing professional education including teleconferences, case presentations, and independent self-study courses, web-based learning, and face-to-face learning, such as special interest groups, lectures, and discussion groups (Hobson, 1990).
7. CAOT strives to assist members in meeting educational needs through learning services and products including publications, toolkits, webinars, workshops, networks and portals, and resources for evidence-informed practice. The CAOT annual conference and pre-conference workshops, the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, and Occupational Therapy Now are additional sources for learning. CAOT also monitors members' educational needs through surveys and consultation, requests for professional practice information, and discussions with affiliate occupational therapy organizations. Finally, national committee representation activities, technological innovations, legislation, and environmental scans of developments in health and social issues inform CAOT’s continuing professional education activities. CAOT will continue to respond to members' educational needs and promote occupational therapists' involvement in continuing professional education.
Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations. (2011). Essential Competencies of Practice for Occupational Therapists in Canada (3rd ed.) .
Bossers, A., Kernaghan, J., Merla, L., & Van Kessel, M. (1999). Portfolios: A powerful professional development tool..."if you had to prove your competency, could you do it?" Occupational Therapy Now, 1(4), 11-13.
Campbell, D. & Pasemko, E. (1985).Developing continuing professional education in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology/audiology. Edmonton, AB: Faculty of Education, University of Alberta.
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. (2012). Profile of occupational therapy practice in Canada (3rd ed.). Ottawa, ON: CAOT Publications ACE.
Cosman, R., & Heinz, C. (1995). Professional Responsibility of Occupational Therapists. Ottawa, ON: CAOT Publications ACE.
Craik, J., & Rappolt, S. (2006). Enhancing research utilization through multifaceted
professional development. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60, 155-164.
Harvey, L.M. (1983). Continuing education and the geographically isolated therapist. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 50, 125-132.
Hobson, S.J.G. (1990). A field analysis of continuing professional education in occupational therapy. Antigonish, NS: Saint Francis Xavier University.
Jarvis, P. (1995). Adult and continuing education: Theory and practice. (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.
Kinsella, E. A. (2000). Professional development and reflective practice: Strategies for learning through professional experience. Ottawa, ON: CAOT Publications ACE.
Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Madill. H. M. (1984). Life-long education in an occupational therapy context. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 51, 68-72
Position statements are on political, ethical and social issues that impact on client welfare, the profession of occupational therapy or CAOT. If they are to be distributed past two years of the publication date, please contact the Director of Professional Practice, CAOT National Office, CTTC Building, Suite 3400, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON. K1S 5R1. Tel. (613) 523-2268 or E-mail: email@example.com.
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