On becoming a confident occupational therapist.
This thesis presents and discusses the results of research undertaken to explore the concept 'professional confidence'. The term 'confidence', is frequently to be found In previous research, yet this has not adequately been defined. The conceptions held by occupational therapists were not clear, and the events or circumstances that fostered professional confidence in occupational therapists have not been identified. Each of these aspects was identified as an area for research in the profession. Three studies were undertaken to gain greater insights and to add to the body of knowledge in terms of our understanding of 'professional confidence'. The studies included a concept analysis of the concept of 'professional confidence', a phenomenographic study of the conceptions of professional confidence that novice occupational therapists hold and finally, the sources or determinants of professional confidence beliefs in occupational therapy students were explored using an interpretative methodology. The research undertaken yielded antecedents and attributes or characteristics of professional confidence, and from these a definition was crafted. The conceptions or understanding of professional confidence held by the community service therapists, namely knowing, believing and being, were closely related to the attributes raised in the concept analysis, confirming the findings of the analysis. Final year occupational therapy students highlighted a number of determinants of professional confidence, including events, situations and circumstances within their control, the control of their clinical supervisors and/or the profession. These sources in turn had been confirmed as antecedents in the concept analysis. The research confirmed that professional identity, competence and professional confidence are inter-related and inter-dependent phenomena. Professional confidence involves a dynamic, maturing self-belief closely related to, and informed by both professional identity and competence. As such, equal attention should be given during the educational endeavour and initial employment opportunities, to the fostering of both professional identity and professional confidence while enhancing competencies. The recommendations provided within the research provide a rich source of information from which further research can be undertaken and interventions developed to assist students and novice practitioners to enhance their professional confidence.