Developing communication skills in occupational therapy, and paramedic students

Communication is considered to be a core skill for healthcare professionals. The teaching, learning and development of communication skills are discussed with a focus upon occupational therapy and paramedic practitioner students.A mixed methods approach was taken to gather data; questionnaires were administered to evaluate the final year student opinions regarding how they are taught and learn about communication skills, and how well prepared they felt for practice. Programme Lead feedback was gained regarding student opinions and programme handbooks were analysed to further inform the research.The majority of students prioritised listening skills as the most important communication skill required for practice and held the pre-course expectation to be taught communication skills required for practice. Difference in opinion was highlighted regarding how adequately taught and prepared students felt, with a proportion of OT students feeling inadequately taught communication skills.Findings provide a clear indication of student opinions regarding how they are taught, learn about and are prepared for the communication skills required for practice; students value this training and would welcome more to be included in their programmes. The difference in learning experience is attributed to there being no specific module for communication skills on the OT programme.

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