Use of simulation for occupational therapy practice education

Domain 4. Accreditation Standards

Domain 8. Stakeholder collaboration


Occupational Therapy Council


Accreditation Standards and stakeholder collaboration

Issue addressed

The evidence base for use of simulation in health professional education

A range of simulation learning activities are used in health professional education, through individual discipline programs as well as in interprofessional units of study. While there is support for continuing development of simulation approaches that enhance student learning experiences and knowledge acquisition, more research is required to demonstrate evidence of transfer of knowledge and skills to practice and improved health outcomes.

Shortage of practice education /fieldwork.

Accredited programs are required to ensure students are prepared for practise through participation in significant practice education/fieldwork activity. The growth in occupational therapy education programs in Australia means that there is increasing difficulty for programs to secure sufficient quality placements with health and other service providers.

Practice introduced or changed

The OTC along with members of the occupational therapy professional body, education providers and practitioners, participated in an HWA funded project in 2010 (Rodger et al) which investigated the use of simulation in occupational therapy. The outcome of the project was consensus that up to 20% of occupational therapy practice education/fieldwork placement could be provided via well- developed simulation activity.

The OTC included this recommendation in subsequent revision of its Accreditation Standards. The OTC developed an explanatory guide that provides additional detail about the expectations.

The OTC continues to participate in research activity that seeks to develop evidence for the use of simulation in occupational therapy education.


  • Simulation activity is being increasingly used in occupational therapy
  • The work by Rodger at al and the OTCs reference to the use of simulation were used to justify a research proposal the development and implementation of a multicentre randomised controlled trial (RCT) “Replicating Fieldwork Placement in Undergraduate Occupational Therapy Curricula” to obtain evidence for the use of simulated learning as a partial substitute for traditional undergraduate professional practice placements. The project aims to establish whether students can obtain equivalent learning outcomes through a simulated learning placement as students who attend an equal-length traditional placement. It is being led by a project team at the Australian Catholic University, initially funded by the HWA and now via the Department of Health.

Where to go for more information

OTC explanatory guide: The use of Simulation in practice education/fieldwork at: education-July-2013.pdf

Rodger, S., Bennett, S., Fitzgerald, C. & Neads, P. (2010). Use of simulated learning activities in occupational therapy curriculum. University of Queensland on behalf of Health Workforce Australia.