The purpose of this descriptive study was to estimate the prevalence and explore the perceptions of occupational therapists across the U.S. in regards to leadership positions in the school-based setting. A survey was completed by 116 occupational therapists who were members of either Early Intervention & School System, Developmental Disabilities, or Administration & Management special interest sections (SIS) of the American Occupational Therapy Association. The findings indicated that there is a higher prevalence of occupational therapists in formal leadership positions than the literature suggested, with 26% of respondents (n = 116) reporting that they have held a leadership position during their school-based career. Consistent with research (Fleming-Castaldy and Patro, 2012) citing additional degrees beyond the entry level occupational therapy degree as a possible predictor of leadership competencies, this study, indicated 40% (n= 30) of leaders were found to have post-professional degrees beyond their entry level occupational therapy degree while non-leaders were 25.3% (n= 83). This study found four key descriptive characteristics of leaders (a) formal education or continuing professional education, (b) self-initiative to build one’s skills or contribute to the organization, (c) having the desire for or interest in management role, and (d) seeking opportunities. This was consistent with Bondoc, Kroll, & Herz’s, (2008) study. Based on this survey and the previously mentioned studies it seems reasonable to suggest the attainment of leadership positions is supported through post-professional education to foster growth and competency around leadership skill development, the role of mentorship, and person-job fit.

Publication Place

Tacoma, Washington


University of Puget Sound

Faculty Advisor

Yvonne Swinth, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Committee Chairperson

Publication Date



Electronic Thesis





Degree Program

Occupational Therapy

Degree Level



Occupational Therapy


University of Puget Sound

Garza_thesis approval.pdf (23 kB)
Thesis Approval