South African Journal of Occupational Therapy
On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337
MASEKO, Lebogang Johanna et al. Factors that influence choice of placement for community service among occupational therapists in South Africa. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2014, vol.44, n.1, pp.36-40. ISSN 2310-3833.
BACKGROUND: Provision of health care to all in South Africa is a major challenge as a result of historical inequalities and a mal-distribution of health professionals and services. The disparity in the availability of these services is particularly apparent between rural and urban areas, with relatively few health professionals practicing in rural South Africa. Community service was thus introduced by the Minister of Health in 2003 for all graduates in the medical and allied fields as a means to retain human resources in the public sector and address the inequality of service delivery. AIM: The purpose of this study was to determine the factors that influence choice of placement for community service amongst occupational therapists in South Africa. METHODS: Occupational therapists completing their community service year in 2012 participated in this study. Electronic surveys were formulated to explore the factors influencing choice of placement for community service. The surveys were used to determine the relationship between graduates' attitudes and experiences when selecting a placement. RESULTS: The results indicated that the majority of the participants agreed with the statements that family contact, proximity to home and exposure/experience gained during undergraduate studies were influential in the choice of placements for community service. Urban placements were favoured over rural placements. Financial incentives were found to have minimal influence on the selection of rural placements. Experiences during undergraduate studies, including the perceptions and opinions of students towards their university supervisors, and even more so their clinical supervisors, were found to have a significant influence on choice of placement. The National Department of Health could potentially use this information to review the level of success gained in achieving the initial goals of community service.
Keywords : Community service; occupational therapists; community service placement; financial incentives; rural; urban.