The development of a needs assessment of pediatric occupational therapists: learning needs for competency in mainland China
Hermes, Susan Skees
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The growth and learning needs of pediatric occupational therapists working in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have not been fully researched or documented at this time. Without a formal occupational therapy association, the communication and planning to identify these professional development needs can be challenging. WFOT resources available for non-member countries combine with some of the traditional occupational therapy resources and initiatives from neighboring member associations. Hong Kong and Taiwan provide practices and materials that reflect Chinese culture and assist in promoting the profession (Lin, 2014; Sinclair, 2015). Language nuances, historical and political issues can make direct transference to the mainland of China problematic. These activities help support occupational therapy as a distinct healthcare profession within these regions of the PRC but may have barriers to direct application in mainland China. A formal needs assessment of the occupational therapists has not yet been undertaken. The steps to develop a pediatric needs assessment are presented in this paper. Research confirms a facilitated needs assessment can assist in determining and understanding learning needs, preferences, patterns, and future topics (Newcomer, Hatry, & Wholey, 2015) for occupational therapists and the groups that provide them professional development training in mainland China. There are three distinct stakeholder groups identified for this research project: pediatric occupational therapists, professional development producers, and families of children receiving therapy services in mainland China. The research team works collaboratively with identified stakeholder partners to identify the training and growth needs of the pediatric occupational therapist to provide the required educational recommendations that will foster competency in practice. Both the occupational therapists and the providers of professional development activities gain a better understanding through participation in the program evaluation processes of surveying learning needs in the context of international evidence-based competency content. The implementation and dissemination of the program verifies, validates and provides a synthesis of perspectives and establishes a connection for the client’s input to the therapy services. The program evaluation summary recommendations are hypothesized to have an impact on improving the perception of the quality of pediatric occupational therapy services received by caregivers and families in mainland China.