Graduation Date


Document Type

Capstone Project

Project Type

Qualitative Study

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Julia Wilbarger, OTR/L, PhD

Faculty Advisor

Karen McCarthy, OTD, OTR/L


Occupational therapy (OT) is a client-centered healthcare profession that uses therapeutic activities to increase an individual’s, group’s, or population's participation in meaningful activities, otherwise known as occupations. The general underlying factors that motivate one’s decision to choose this career path is well established within the existing literature. However, research into the experiences of students working alongside an occupational therapist (OT) prior currently faces a significant gap. The aim of this study is to identify and understand what first-hand experiences of OT brought OT students to pursue a career in occupational therapy. Through the lens of narrative inquiry, participants were given a narrative prompt to describe their first-hand experiences with occupational therapy. Following the participants’ completion of a narrative prompt, semi-structured interviews were conducted with four pre-OT students from Dominican University of California and one entry level doctorate student from University of St. Augustine, Miami.

Wilcock’s (1999) Doing, Being and Becoming was referenced as a guided theory during the thematic analysis as it reflects on “how a dynamic balance between doing and being is central to healthy living and how becoming whatever a person is best fitted to become is dependent on both” (1999, p.2). Through the utilization of these themes, the findings reveal that initial OT observation hours are highly influential towards one’s decision to pursue OT as a career. Additionally, these findings suggest a need for required hours to include reflection and adequate hands-on experiences as provided by OT departments within colleges and universities.

IRB Number