Students’ fieldwork experiences of using community entry skills to understand culture in community development.

Nikki Vermeulen


Background. Community development has been identified as an approach that occupational therapists can use to make a unique contribution to the health of communities. There is however limited research that addresses the practical application that occupational therapists need to use when engaged in community development. This includes community development’s most important phase of community entry which is defined as a prelude to any action that will take place in true partnership with the community.


Purpose. This paper explores the experiences of final year occupational therapy students using community entry skills during community fieldwork practice.


Methods. An auto-ethnographic approach was used to explore students’ experiences of the use of community entry skills within community development. Data collected included the use of the students’ reflective fieldwork journals, a narrative and a focus group. All data collected was critically analysed through a process of thematic analysis in order to explore the students’ experiences of the use of community entry skills during community fieldwork practice.


Findings. The findings of this study highlight that the process of community entry is a subjective experience that requires mindfulness and awareness in becoming a part of the community. This allows professionals to interact with the community and its members and it gives rise to the understanding that one receives when working in a community.


Implications. Recommendations are made regarding the support of and preparation of Occupational Therapists in the field of community development.


 Key Word: Community Development, Community Entry Skills, Fieldwork Education, Auto-ethnograph




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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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