Embracing entrepreneurship: occupational therapy's introduction to design-thinking for innovation
Jordan, Gigi Helen
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Occupational therapy graduate programs are not successfully equipping students to be innovative leaders or take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities in the changing healthcare landscape. Within the evidence literature, very few studies document the inclusion of innovative entrepreneurial concepts in occupational therapy education or examples of entrepreneurial success in practice. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Blueprint for Entry-Level Education states that “business fundamentals” and “entrepreneurial skills” are required in entry-level graduate programs. However, a review of the top 10 occupational therapy programs’ curriculum revealed only half the of these programs were including these concepts, majority of which focused on business plan creation. Furthermore, very few continuing education (CE) opportunities for the occupational therapy practitioner exist on entrepreneurship. The majority of current coursework focuses on private practice ownership and does not expose occupational therapy practitioners to other entrepreneurial methods or prepare them for a non-linear path towards entrepreneurship. Recent evidence within the literature suggests traditional pedagogical approaches and a focus on business plan creation in entrepreneurship education are not effective. Rather an increased emphasis should be put on opportunity recognition, creative thinking, and interdisciplinary collaboration to link entrepreneurial learning with personal development. The proposed program, Embracing Entrepreneurship: Occupational therapy’s introduction to design-thinking for innovation, is an evidence-based CE course that teaches occupational therapy entrepreneurs to research and build innovative solutions to problems they are passionate about solving. This doctoral project (1) investigates evidence and best practices in entrepreneurship education for health professionals, (2) proposes a teaching model for OT entrepreneurship education that draws parallels between the occupational therapy and design-thinking processes, and (3) proposes delivery of course content informed by adult learning theory. This project recognizes that not every practitioner may desire to be an entrepreneur but opportunity to build entrepreneurial awareness is critical for the advancement of the profession. Therefore, Embracing Entrepreneurship offers an open-source mini-course that provides an introduction to entrepreneurial idea generation for OT practitioners. The full-length Embracing Entrepreneurship CE course guides participants through application of the design-thinking process through multimedia content, weekly assignments, and virtual discussions. The self-guided modules are designed to be completed at the learner’s own pace and allows them to develop a unique entrepreneurial venture addressing a need they find personally meaningful. By surveying course takers of both the mini and full-length courses, the program will gain insights into practitioners’ interests, motivations, and potential barriers to pursuing entrepreneurship. Embracing Entrepreneurship will equip OT practitioners to be innovative, creative, collaborative problem-solvers capable of solving some of the populations’ most complex health challenges.
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