Developing occupational therapists' capabilities for decision-making capacity assessments: how does a support role facilitate workplace learning?

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Matus, Janine
Mickan, Sharon
Noble, Christy
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Introduction: Healthcare practitioners are required to develop capabilities in an effective and efficient manner. Yet, developing capabilities in healthcare settings can be challenging due to the unpredictable nature of practice and increasing workloads. Unsurprisingly, healthcare practitioner development is often situated outside of practice, for example in formal teaching sessions. Supporting practitioners to develop capabilities through engagement with day-to-day practice, whilst advantageous in terms of authenticity and being highly valued, remains a key challenge for healthcare educators. This qualitative interview study aimed to explain, from the learner’s perspective, how a dedicated support role develops occupational therapists’ capability to contribute to decision-making capacity assessments. Methods: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 12 occupational therapists. Informed by workplace learning theory, interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis process. Results: Participants provided rich descriptions of how they developed in their capability to engage in decision-making capacity assessments. Participants reported that their learning was facilitated by the dedicated support role in three key ways: 1) structuring a journey of learning, 2) providing tailored guidance, and 3) fostering a supportive learning environment. Discussion: Participants valued the authentic workplace learning opportunities afforded by the dedicated support role. Findings suggest that capabilities, such as decision-making capacity assessment, can be developed through practice when enriched by a dedicated support role. However, further research examining the sustainability and transferability of this model and its application to other capabilities are warranted.

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Perspectives on Medical Education

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© The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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Matus, J; Mickan, S; Noble, C, Developing occupational therapists' capabilities for decision-making capacity assessments: how does a support role facilitate workplace learning?, Perspectives on Medical Education, 2020, 9 (2), pp. 74-82