Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy


Dr. Anne Kinsella

Second Advisor

Karen Perkin

Third Advisor

Dr. Lynn Shaw


The Canadian health care system faces challenges of restructuring and change. Health care literature stress the need for leadership to guide and support health care professionals through these processes. Research specific to professional practice leadership in the profession of occupational therapy is lacking. How might understanding what occupational therapy professional practice leaders actually do contribute to knowledge about leadership in the profession? Examining this question contributes to improved understanding about leadership activities for professional practice leaders, as well as offering useful insights for those considering a professional practice leadership role. A grounded theory study was undertaken to address this question. The results support a conceptual model that describes professional practice leadership occurring through a process of reflective practice and by building relationships, engaging therapists, positioning occupational therapy within the organization, navigating organizational constraints and possibilities, and enacting moral agency. These findings provide valuable insights for professional practice leaders, making explicit current tacit leadership activities and fostering reflection on current leadership practices and educational needs. Insights for hospital administrators include a better understanding of the complexity of how professional practice leadership is enacted. The findings may also have implications for the design of health care systems that support leadership activities.



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