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The Scholarship of Practice by Practice-Scholars

Occupational Alums and practitioners: If you would like to learn more about engaging in this opportunity for yourself, please contact the Department at ot@duq.edu for current and future activities.

A Duquesne University Initiative

Our Vision:

Duquesne University Occupational Therapists:

Practice-Scholars Who Serve, Do, Question, & Lead


In 1999 - 2000, the Department of Occupational Therapy faculty at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, recognized that an innovative opportunity existed to partner with occupational therapy practitioners to enhance our teaching, research and service activities through addressing real life needs and problems within underserved and/or marginalized communities. Faculty, students and the community could benefit from collaborations that met existing needs of all participants. For too long, the University, nicknamed by many as the “Ivory Tower,” had descended upon practice to test university-directed theories or expect pre-professional education of our students. Thus, the Practice-Scholar Initiative was created where faculty partnered with practitioners who were interested in engaging proactively in the scholarship of their everyday practice. The goal of this Practice-Scholar Initiative is to develop a cadre of practitioners actively engaged in creating evidence and outcomes studies that respond to practice-based questions arising from their practice.

Duquesne University faculty, realized the learning potential and relevance of using the natural environment as a resource for addressing relevant practice concerns and providing a new direction in student education and the professional development of practitioners. By answering practice questions in everyday occupational therapy contexts, meaningful contemporary health issues could be addressed and provide evidence to support the practice of occupational therapy. Since many faculty are given time to do scholarship as integral to their role and our profession certainly needed evidence to support our practice contentions, our faculty saw a valuable, multi-faceted opportunity in promoting the scholarship of practice through supporting practitioners in becoming practice-scholars.

Occupational programs, be they in medical, school, community settings, or other settings are very aware of their needs regarding evidence to support their practice. Many seek universities as partners for addressing scholarship of practice concerns. Programs especially value partnerships with academic programs when applied research leads to sustainable outcomes for their program after the research projects ended. Likewise, many practice settings embraced student education as an opportunity to train a new cadre of entry-level practitioners with a unique set of skills to provide leadership in addressing critical issues in health care.

Faculty-practitioner partnerships based on collaborative problem-solving, shared student preparation and interest in applied research activities that addressed mutually established, practice-relevant priorities appeared to have great potential to bridge the academy and practice. This approach had potential to re-frame a previous way of engagement into a win-win partnership for both parties with the benefits extended to students and our profession. Each partner had a different purpose or mission but together embracing these opportunities exponentially increased the outcomes that could result.

The evolution of a new program, called the Practice-Scholar program at Duquesne University is to develop new partnerships between practice and our Department to support mutual interests in teaching, research and service focusing on the scholarship of occupational therapy in a variety of settings. The role, 'practice-scholar,' was coined by our faculty to mirror the role, ‘teacher-scholar,' used on our campus to reflect performance expectations including the expected balance of teaching and research on our campus. A practice-scholar embeds research in their everyday practice to answer central questions and/or provide evidence unique to their practice setting. Our department envisions practice-scholar activities as possible within any setting where occupational therapy practice is occurring. In fact, a variety of ‘best practice' sites is desired.

A Duquesne University Practice-Scholar in Occupational Therapy:

The following description of the knowledge, skills and attitudes requisite to the practice-scholar in occupational therapy, guide our program's vision, mission and curriculum outcomes. A practice-scholar:

  • demonstrates competency in an evidence-based practice specialty reflecting the value of occupation as process and ends.
  • establishes the requisite habits to create occupation-based evidence to support their practice specialty.
  • engages as a leader facilitating change and/or knowledge-sharing to enhance the practice of occupational therapy.
  • translates research evidence for use in everyday practice.
  • embeds the scholarship of practice into their everyday activities.
  • leads practice through the roles they assume
  • disseminates their acquired knowledge regarding “best practices” to benefit the individuals served.
  • models their behaviors for others to emulate through fieldwork education, mentoring and other leadership activities within the profession, the community and systems housing our practice.
  • creates exemplary partnerships with key entities to provide contemporary quality, evidence –based practice

Approved 11/4/09

The faculty are continuously reviewing and implementing new strategies to assist entry-level students and practitioners to engage in practice-scholar activities.

For more information on this program or potential participation in one of our upcoming practice-scholar activities, please contact ot@duq.edu .

If you are or have been a practice-scholar with Duquesne as a student and/or practitioner and have research that you feel exemplifies the practice-scholar role, activities or outcomes and are willing to be listed as a practice-scholar, please contact us so that we can recognize your work as evidence of the success of this approach in our materials and on our website.

Professional Outcomes of the Practice-Scholar Partnership*



* These lists do not include current practice-scholars who are now presenting at state and national meetings and/or publishing their practice-based scholarship independent of their collaborations with the Duquesne university faculty.