Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Debra Hanson


Acute Disease; Clinical Competence; Occupational Therapists; Professional Competence


Purpose: There are limited tools to assist new graduates and novice occupational therapist as they navigate their job responsibilities within acute physical dysfunction settings. The purpose of this scholarly project was to create a resource to address the challenges faced when transitioning to an acute physical dysfunction setting.

Methods: An extensive literature review was conducted on topics relating to: occupational therapy, role transitioning, job responsibilities in an acute setting, environment of acute setting, readiness skills of occupational therapists, challenges faced in an acute setting, and current tools utilized to assist novice therapists in their work transition. The search databases used included: Pubmed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO. Current research has identified that new graduates face many challenges as they transition from student to a qualified occupational therapist including: learning to work collaboratively with other professions, applying highly specific technical skills, and confidence in professional interaction and decision making (Cusick, McIntosh, & Santiago, 2004; Morley, 2007; Robertson & Griffiths 2009; Seah, Mackenzie, & Gamble, 2011; Tryssenaar & Perkins, 2001). Environmental aspects of practice within acute physical dysfunction setting further contribute to practice challenges including: limited space, fast pace, and exposure to extensive medical equipment (Cusick, McIntosh, & Santiago, 2004).

Results: Guided by the Occupational Adaptation model, the Novice Adaptation Tool (NAT) was developed. This tool provides a structure for novice therapist to evaluate their relative mastery in areas of assessment, treatment planning, intervention, documentation, communication and professionalism, and to work collaboratively with a mentor to address areas of need. A five-stage process allows for self-evaluation, collaborate discussion, en-vivo observation, reflective processing, and goal re-evaluation. Two case studies are included to illustrate tool use.

Conclusion: The NAT offers an efficient and yet thorough format to facilitate new graduate and novice occupational therapist transition to acute physical dysfunction settings.