Occupational therapy international undergraduate students’ perspectives on the purpose of practice education and what contributes to successful practice learning experiences

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Introduction: Practice placements (also referred to as fieldwork) are a significant component of occupational therapy education. For international students enrolled in occupational therapy education programmes outside their own country, completing practice placements can be challenging. There is scarce literature that examines the perspectives of international students undertaking practice placements. The study’s aim was to understand international students’ perceptions, what they believe to be the purpose of practice placements and what attributes contribute to successful practice education. Method: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were used to elicit the perspectives of seven fourth-year international undergraduate occupational therapy students enrolled at an Australian university. Results: Thematic analysis identified two key themes: ‘the purpose of practice placements’ (sub-themes: translating knowledge into practice, adapting to real life experiences and building our communication skills), and ‘a successful practice placement’ (sub-themes: the environment, the clinical educator and my responsibilities). Conclusion: Findings identified what international occupational therapy students believed to contribute to a positive and quality practice placement. All students valued the opportunities that practice education afforded, including developing communication skills and integrating theory into practice. These findings will assist academic and practice educators in the delivery of high quality practice education placement learning experiences for international students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-375
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • clinical practice education placements
  • International students
  • occupational therapy
  • supervision
  • higher education

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