Denmark National OT News

News from Denmark, 2017

The first professor of occupational therapy in Denmark

The first professor of occupational therapy and occupational science in Denmark took office on 3 May 2017 at the Research Unit of General Practice at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.

Hans Jonsson is a well-known figure in occupational therapy. He will use his research experience to make occupational therapy take root and grow strong in the Danish research environment – like he did in his home country, Sweden.

The appointment of the 66-year-old Swede, who has been a lecturer at the Division of Occupational Therapy at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm since 2002, is part of a five-year plan that aims to develop the Danish research area. The professor can inspire, assist and open doors, says occupational therapist, lecturer and PhD. Karen la Cour from the Research Unit of General Practice at the University of Southern Denmark.

”Hans Jonsson is a distinguished researcher who has many years’ experience and an extensive international network. Our group of occupational therapy researchers will undoubtedly benefit from his research experience. The appointment also means that we will be able to lodge larger applications for research funds”, she says.

One of the things that Hans Jonsson thinks needs to be tackled is formulating the very identity of occupational therapy. He says:

”Research must ensure that our profession progresses. The prerequisite for successful development is that the foundation of our profession is strong – and, in this respect, we still have a long way to go. I often hear occupational therapists complain that they find it difficult to get people to listen to their occupational therapeutic perspective – listeners tend more often to see things from a more medical point of view. This is due especially to the fact that occupational therapy is still a relatively young discipline. It was only recognised at the university level in Sweden 25 years ago. Therefore, part of our task in this initial phase will be to formulate the very identity of occupational therapy.”

In Sweden, the professor has seen how developing his profession and awareness of what constitutes the unique core of occupational therapy has created wider respect for the profession and opened more doors – not least to interdisciplinary cooperation.

”Nowadays we occupational therapists don’t always have to ask to join an interdisciplinary team. We are sometimes invited by the other professions – and they ask us because we have created awareness and knowledge of how occupational therapy can contribute”, Hans Jonsson says. He stresses, however, that that development in these two countries is not directly comparable.

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