BACKGROUND: This study explores the concept of professionalism from the vantage point of a cohort of students as well as professionally
qualified and practising occupational therapists. With the changes health care delivery is experiencing nationally as well as internationally,
there is an urgent need to identify students and qualified professionals’ expectations of what influences the development thereof, as
well as elicit perceptions of attributes which contribute to professionalism.
METHODS: The study is primarily a descriptive study with a specific focus on a mixed method of quantitative and qualitative research
designs, using interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology. Data were gathered from 56 final-year and 55 professionally
registered occupational therapists, who participated in a pen-and-paper questionnaire consisting of three sections.
RESULTS: The results of this study indicated a clear differentiation between the influence of both the formal and hidden curricula and
that clinical competence, client-centred practice and professional standards contributed mostly to professional behaviour.
CONCLUSION: This study brings to light the experiences of students and professional practitioners to what they expect would influence
the professional conduct. The findings are open to theoretical generalizability and raise issues that may be used by academic staff in
the preparation of students to become more professional, as well of future Continuous Professional Development training.