Occupational therapy students’ technological skills: Are ‘generation Y’ ready for 21st century practice?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 2016, 63 (6), pp. 391 - 398
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© 2016 Occupational Therapy Australia Background/aim: Technology is becoming increasingly integral to the practice of occupational therapists and part of the everyday lives of clients. ‘Generation Y’ are purported to be naturally technologically skilled as they have grown up in the digital age. The aim of this study was to explore one cohort of ‘Generation Y’ occupational therapy students’ skills and confidence in the use of technologies relevant to contemporary practice. Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used to collect data from a cohort of 274 students enrolled in an Australian undergraduate occupational therapy programme. Results: A total of 173 (63%) students returned the survey. Those born prior to 1982 were removed from the data. This left 155 (56%) ‘Generation Y’ participants. Not all participants reported to be skilled in everyday technologies although most reported to be skilled in word, Internet and mobile technologies. Many reported a lack of skills in Web 2.0 (collaboration and sharing) technologies, creating and using media and gaming, as well as a lack of confidence in technologies relevant to practice, including assistive technology, specialist devices, specialist software and gaming. Conclusions: Overall, the results suggested that this group of ‘Generation Y’ students were not universally skilled in all areas of technology relevant to practice but appear to be skilled in technologies they use regularly. Recommendations are therefore made with view to integrating social networking, gaming, media sharing and assistive technology into undergraduate programmes to ensure that graduates have the requisite skills and confidence required for current and future practice.
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