Scope of Practice and Scope of Competence

Education Law defines the scope of practice of occupational therapy as:

The functional evaluation of the client and the planning and utilization of a program of purposeful activities to develop or maintain adaptive skills, designed to achieve maximal physical and mental functioning of the patient in his daily life tasks.

Your scope of practice sets the outside parameters of your practice. Your scope of competence is, most likely, a subset of your scope of practice. Your scope of competence is comprised of those aspects of occupational therapy in which you are competent.

Competence is based on the application of knowledge, performance skills, interpersonal abilities, critical reasoning skills and ethical reasoning skills, as demonstrated in the performance of one's professional role(s).

It is your responsibility to limit your practice to areas in which you have been trained and educated, and with which you are familiar and competent.

A professional's scope of competence changes over time. You may, in fact, lose some areas of competence as you acquire others. It is your professional and ethical responsibility to know and respect your limits. Ongoing training and education will allow you to expand the depth and breadth of your practice, within the statutory confines of the definition of your profession. The reference to "occupation" in "occupational therapy" is taken in the context of a person's use of time, energy, interest and attention. This encompasses a wide range of learning and performance activities.

Last Updated: May 28, 2009