Fieldwork Education

What is Fieldwork Education?

The purpose of fieldwork education is to facilitate the transition from the role of student to that of practitioner. Through the fieldwork experience, future practitioners achieve competence in applying the occupational therapy process and using evidence-based interventions to meet the occupational therapy needs of diverse clinical populations. These experiences may occur in a variety of practice settings, including medical, educational, and community-based. The end goal of the fieldwork rotation is that the student develops competency to critically evaluate client occupational performance needs to identify supports or barriers affecting health and participation, and to document interventions provided. Fieldwork education also provides opportunities for the student to develop advocacy, leadership, and managerial skills in a variety of practice settings, while incorporating principles of evidence-based practice and client-centered care.

Fieldwork requirements

Level 1 fieldwork

The goal of level 1 fieldwork is to introduce students to the fieldwork experience, to apply knowledge to practice, and to develop understanding of the needs of clients. Level 1 fieldwork is not intended to develop independent performance, but rather to include experiences designed to enrich didactic coursework through directed observation and participation in selected aspects of the occupational therapy process.

Services may be provided to a variety of populations through a variety of settings. Experiences may include those directly related to occupational therapy, as well as other situations to enhance an understanding of the developmental stages, tasks, and roles of individuals throughout the life span. Day care centers, schools, skilled nursing facilities, homeless shelters, community mental health centers, and hospitals are among the many possible sites. Level I fieldwork may also include services management and administrative experiences in occupational therapy settings, community agencies, or school settings. Populations may include disabled or well populations, as well as age-specific or diagnosis-specific clients.

Students are supervised by qualified personnel including, but not limited to, certified/licensed occupational therapy assistants, teachers, social workers, nurses, physical therapists, and/or other professionals who may be part of the intervention team. Each level I fieldwork is designed collaboratively with the faculty member, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, and the fieldwork educator.

Level 2 fieldwork

Level 2 fieldwork focuses on the in-depth process of the delivery of occupational therapy services to clients. This is a full-time, 24-week or equivalent experiential education at approved sites off campus. Under the supervision of a qualified occupational therapy practitioner, the student integrates academic coursework by focusing on the application of purposeful and meaningful occupation in the administration and management of occupational therapy services.

The purpose of level 2 fieldwork is three-fold:

  1. Promotion of clinical reasoning and reflective practice skills
  2. Application of the OT process including occupational assessment and intervention
  3. Professional behavior development

An additional purpose is to develop competent, entry-level, generalist occupational therapists. Level II fieldwork provides experiences that promote clinical reasoning and develop and increase a student’s skill in evaluation, planning, and intervention related to human purpose. The experiences shall include an in-depth experience in delivering occupational therapy services to clients, focusing on the application of purposeful and meaningful occupation.