WHAT IS FIELDWORK?
Fieldwork experiences are scheduled internships during which time students have opportunities to apply their knowledge of occupational therapy. The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) states, “The fieldwork experience is designed to promote clinical reasoning and reflective practice, transmit the values and beliefs that enable ethical practice, and develop professionalism and competence in career responsibilities.”
The MSOT curriculum has three 40-hour fieldwork experiences that occur during OT 695. These are considered Level I Fieldwork Experiences. MSOT students also complete two Level II fieldwork experiences, which are 12-week (40 clock hours per week) internship experiences in OT 696 Professional Fieldwork I and in OT 697 Professional Fieldwork II.
Level I Fieldwork
ACOTE states, “The goal of Level I fieldwork is to introduce students to fieldwork, apply knowledge to practice, and develop understanding of the needs of clients.” Level I Fieldwork is not intended to develop independent performance, but 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, neighborhood centers, hospice, homeless shelters, community mental health centers, and therapeutic activity or work centers are among the many possible sites. Level I Fieldwork may also include services management and administrative experiences in occupational therapy settings, community agencies, or environmental analysis experiences. Populations may include disabled or well populations; age-specific or diagnosis-specific clients.
Qualified personnel for supervision of Level I Fieldwork may include, but are not limited to, academic or fieldwork educators, occupational therapy practitioners, psychologists, physician assistants, teachers, social workers, nurses, physical therapists, etc. The supervisors must be knowledgeable about occupational therapy and cognizant of the goals and objectives of the Level I Fieldwork experience." (AOTA, 2020)
Level II Fieldwork
Level II fieldwork is designed to promote clinical reasoning and reflective practice, to transmit the values and beliefs that enable the application of ethics related to the profession, to communicate and model professionalism as a developmental process and a career responsibility, and to develop and expand a repertoire of occupational therapy assessments and treatment interventions related to functional performance. Upon completion of Level II fieldwork, students should be operating as a competent, entry-level, generalist occupational therapists. Because of accreditation requirements, Level II fieldwork educators MUST be occupational therapists who have practiced a minimum of one year in their current setting.
Fieldwork educators play an essential role in the education of occupational therapy students. In practice environments, students can build on the foundational knowledge they learned through didactic coursework. The experience, knowledge, and guidance fieldwork educators provide helps develop lifelong professional and personal skills related and unrelated to occupational therapy, which students will utilize throughout their future careers as occupational therapy practitioners.
ACADEMIC FIELDWORK COORDINATOR
The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator is the university’s appointed faculty member who oversees all fieldwork experiences. She is required to ensure the university’s OT program is adhering to state and national accrediting bodies rules and regulations, establish and ensure professional relationships with fieldwork facilities, and act as a liaison between students and fieldwork educations. USI’s Occupational Therapy Academic Fieldwork Coordinator is Jenna Thacker, OTD, OTR/L, CHT.