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Objective: The purpose of this study is to provide current and future generations of occupational therapists a view of the history and how occupational therapy practice has evolved from its inception to current practice through the life history stories of occupational therapists who have held leadership roles at the national level and beyond. It is anticipated that the life history process will be a powerful way to gather this information.

Method: A life history qualitative approach was used by conducting two, 60-minutes semi-structured interviews at the University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded to discover emergent themes.

Results: A total of three categories emerged from the data analysis, including: personal journey, professional journey and education/advocacy. Two themes arose from each category, including topics of personal experience with occupational therapy, occupational balance, mentorship, teaching, theory, evidence-based practice, and advanced educational requirements.

Conclusion: Dr. Paula Kramer credits her support systems and occupational balance for allowing her to remain passionate about occupational therapy, which has led her to fulfill a variety of roles throughout her time as a practitioner and educator, and has inspired her to continue advocating for theory and evidence-based services.

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Occupational balance, mentorship, teaching, theory, evidence-based practice


Occupational Therapy

Evolution of Occupational Therapy Practice:   Life History of Paula Kramer, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA