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TxSpot | School-Based Therapy > Blog > Posts > Developing and Maintaining Competence as a School-Based Therapist
February 08
Developing and Maintaining Competence as a School-Based Therapist

​Amy Collins, OTR, MOT                                                                                                                                                            Manager, School-Based Therapy Services, HCDEcompetence 4.jpg

Competence as a school-based occupational therapist or physical therapist is a challenge that requires one to be familiar with the laws and regulations that govern school practice, knowledge of current evidence, and understanding of best practices, all of which evolve over time (Laverdure, 2014).  But how can we go about developing and maintaining that competency? Faucher (2011), states that expert practice involves self-assessment, the attainment of new knowledge, and the application of that knowledge.
Self-assessment requires us to step back from the daily hustle and objectively reflect on areas where we have developed competency, and areas where we still need to grow. Once self-assessment has occurred, practitioners can develop a plan to address those areas. Professional development plans (PDP) spell out how new knowledge will be gained, and how it will be applied in practice. PDPs typically include measurable goals, action steps, and specify how the new knowledge will be applied in practice. They usually include timelines for completion and some means of accountability. AOTA is continually developing tools to help occupational therapy practitioners self-reflect and self-assess, including the AOTA Board Specialty Certification in School Systems and the Professional Development Tool (AOTA, 2003). The Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy (APPT), a section of the American Physical Therapy Association, publishes the quarterly journal, Pediatric Physical Therapy. The journal includes articles of interest to school-based physical therapists. The APPT’s School-Based Physical Therapy Special Interest Group offers on-line resources as well as an annual conference available to members and non-members alike.
Common ways practitioners acquire new knowledge are through professional development such as workshops, professional literature, and learning from other competent practitioners. A work place that promotes continuous learning is critical to a practitioner’s efforts. Work environments that have systems and processes in place make it possible for practitioners to acquire and apply new knowledge. One way that work environments can support continuous learning is by setting aside time for practitioners to meet with other practitioners, both within their discipline and between disciplines in order to model, mentor, share, and discuss new information. Other ways are by supporting attendance at professional development offerings and monitoring continuing competence as part of the performance evaluation process.
While TxSpot is an excellent resource for credible information related to school-based practice, membership-only resources are not available through TxSpot. There is no substitute for membership in your professional organization, which offers a wealth of tools and information conducive for continuing education.
References
 Laverdure, P. (2014). Considerations for the developmental of expert-practice in school-based occupational therapy. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, 7, 225-234. 
Faucher, C. (2011). Development of professional expertise in optometry. Journal of the American Optometric Association, 82, 218-223.