Introduction: Role-emerging placements are increasingly being used to help prepare occupational therapy graduates for practice in a changing health and social care climate. However, while the literature on such placements is increasing, few longitudinal studies have explored their impact on graduates' professional practice and identity. Method: Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to gain an understanding of the ways in which five occupational therapy graduates felt their role-emerging placement influenced their professional identity and practice once qualified. In-depth interviews were carried out with the graduates once they had been working as occupational therapists for a minimum of 6 months. Results: In the absence of other occupational therapists, students on placements created professional identities of their own making and generated visions of the type of therapist they wanted to become. Once qualified, however, there were mixed experiences concerning the extent to which this identity could be sustained in practice. Particular difficulty was encountered by those working in National Health Service settings, where graduates questioned whether their practice was congruent with the professional understandings and ways of being they had developed on placement. Conclusion: Role-emerging placements acted as a catalyst for participants' personal and professional development. Further research on the long-term influence of role-emerging placements is required.
- Role-emerging placements
- professional identity