Exploring Occupational Therapy Student Stress: Professor and Student Perspectives

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The purpose of this study was to identify occupational therapy student stress levels and determine factors influencing this emotional response. The study also sought to obtain the perspective of occupational therapy professors on this issue. This mixed-methods study utilized an online quantitative descriptive survey and a telephone or face-to-face qualitative open-ended interview. Online survey respondents included a nationwide sample of 340 occupational therapy professors and 459 occupational therapy students. Additionally, nine professors and five students served as the interviewees. All professors were certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and employed either full or part time as instructors in an Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) accredited entry level Master of Science or entry level doctoral educational program. All students were enrolled in an ACOTE accredited entry level master’s or entry level occupational therapy doctoral degree program. Findings demonstrated high stress levels in students caused by personal, financial, and academic pressures. Professors acknowledged student stress; however, the results indicated the need for enhanced understanding and communication regarding student stress. Students may benefit from more intense counseling and stress reduction measures. Additionally, professors and universities may need to enhance existing support systems for students. Professors are advised to be attuned to student stress levels and may need to adjust academic requirements accordingly. Further research is needed to determine avenues for diminishing student stress.




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