Sacha Trivett & Robbie Bezati

Professionalism & Disability: The Client’s Perspective

Authors: Roberta Bezati, Sacha Trivett, Dr. Tal Jarus, Michael Lee, Laura Bulk, & Jennifer Gagnon

Introduction. Individuals with disabilities are significantly underrepresented in healthcare professions. Literature suggests that professional competencies are established from an ableist viewpoint, forming institutional barriers for clinicians with disabilities.  Often ‘the safety of the client’ is raised when discrediting the competencies of clinicians with disabilities. However, the client’s perspective on the professional competency of clinicians with disabilities has yet to be investigated. Objectives. This research sought to investigate the client’s perspective of the professional behaviours of clinicians with disabilities. Method. To develop a better understanding of the client perspective, focus groups and interviews were conducted with twenty-seven adults, twenty of whom identify as having a disability or chronic health condition and are receiving services from clinicians. Participants were asked about their expectations and perceptions of professionalism from clinicians with a disability. Themes were developed through a thematic analysis of the qualitative data. Implications for Practice. Exploring the client perspective of professionalism as displayed by clinicians with disabilities may have several implications for occupational therapy practice. The client perspective may enable the participation of clinicians with disabilities in occupational therapy by shifting the definition of professionalism, thereby ending their marginalization from the profession. Conclusion. This research may assist in decreasing the stigma towards clinicians with disabilities within occupational therapy. Future occupational therapy practice may be challenged to adopt a non-ableist viewpoint of clinicians with disabilities and professional competencies.