Presented at the Irish Network of Medical Educators Annual Scientific Meeting, February 21st & 22nd, 2013, University College Dublin.
Practice education is a critical component in occupational therapy undergraduate education (Turpin et al. 2011). Students complete block placements of between 1 week and 10 weeks throughout their university programme. These placements are facilitated and assessed, in the main, by occupational therapists (practice educators). While this had been a long-standing part of occupational therapy education, the publication of entry level competencies for Health Professions in 2008 by the Therapy Project Office and a commitment by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) to review the forms in use led to the development of a new competency based evaluation for all four years of the occupational therapy course in both TCD and NUIG. This presentation focuses on the collaborative development of a competency-based assessment form. It describes the process of development of the competencies to be assessed, the development of a new grading system, the process of collaboration with students, practice educators, practice tutors and academics, the use of the form on a national level, and the subsequent feedback. The result of this collaborative process was a competency based assessment form that;(a) Allowed clinical educators to assess students on demonstrable performance using four categories; competence is “enhanced”, “evident”, “emerging” or “not evident”.(b) Is based on occupational therapy competencies common to all areas of clinical practice, so it can be used on placements in a wide variety of clinical settings.(c) Is developmental; the number of expected competencies rises as the student progresses through the programme. (d) Is based on the entry-level competencies expected of graduates, allowing university programmes to act as gatekeepers for the profession. Feedback on the initial roll-out of the forms was sought from students, clinical educators, and practice tutors in survey format. Response was broadly positive and it has been decided to continue with the use of these assessment tools in their current form. However, the survey highlighted areas that could be addressed in future training workshops for clinical educators. This presentation will be of interest to any professional group who are using competency-based assessment with students on clinical placements.