Scholar Info

Sharon Pape

Senior Lecturer & Academic Fieldwork Coordinator

IU Student Outreach Clinic


What's the Difference Between OT and PT?

Historically, the delineation between Occupational and Physical Therapy (OT and PT) practice roles has been a source of misperception. Confusion between OT and PT scope of practice becomes readily evident in collaborative learning environments, such as at the Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic (IU SOC); a student-led interprofessional pro-bono clinic in Indianapolis, IN. The value of inter-professional education (IPE) is evident in the literature; however, limited research exists discussing the impact of pro-bono clinical work on student understanding of professional roles. The purpose of this study is to examine student perceptions about the differences and similarities between Occupational and Physical Therapy. Our most recent study determined students’ readiness to participate in interprofessional education (IPE) activities that will occur between the graduate programs, primarily through student participation at IUSOC. A consensus document on OT and PT education and scope of practice and a video highlighting the delineation of roles and collaborative practice at the IUSOC were developed by OT and PT student board members and faculty advisors. Within a month of program entry, 1st year students in the OT and PT programs were asked to review the document and video as an ungraded class assignment. Pre- post survey data was collected, including the Attitudes Towards Health Care Teams and a Likert scale developed to explore student knowledge of OT and PT professions’ educational background and scope of practice. Initial outcomes from this research demonstrated 1st year OT and PT students had significantly improved knowledge, understanding and comfort to discuss the differences regarding the general scope of practices among the professions. The results support utilization of IPE approaches early in graduate health professional education to enhance students’ understanding of role delineation and collaborative practice. Using an online training module enriches preparation to participate within a collaborative learning environment such as at the Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic.