The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) defines fieldwork as practice based learning experiences that develop the students’ integration of classroom knowledge and laboratory skills. The profession uses the term fieldwork instead of internships or clinical rotations as the (OT) profession provides service in diverse sites outside of traditional hospital or medical model settings. OTs provide intervention services or practice in various community settings, rehabilitation centers, out-patient settings, school systems, private practice, long term care centers, in work and industrial settings, and in private homes.
Fieldwork experiences are designed to encompass a range of OT services. These experiences allow the student to try out concepts learned in the classroom or the laboratory. Each fieldwork experience is designed to progressively build on previous skills and knowledge. Augusta University (AU) OT curriculum design provides fieldwork experiences during each semester of the Master of Health Science (MHS) in OT program. The AU OT’s curriculum design and learning activities include supportive experiential learning experiences that progress the students’ level of knowledge, skills, and values for entry level competence.
The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE, 2006) specifies fieldwork requirements for all students. The requirements are divided into two major classifications: Level I and Level II fieldwork experiences. The integration of Level I and Level II experiences can be symbolized as stepping stones toward competency.
The goal of Level I experiences is to introduce the OT student to the fieldwork experience, to apply knowledge to practice, and to develop understanding of clients (ACOTE Standards, 2006). The AOTA Standards describe the goal of Level I Fieldwork "to introduce students to the fieldwork experience, and develop a basic comfort level with an 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." Level I Fieldwork experiences allow OT students supervised practical client experiences that are integrated throughout the curriculum.
The Level I fieldwork experiences are scheduled as follows. They are one week in length and ~ 40 hours for the week.
|OTHP 6000||OT Process Fieldwork||Fall/Year 1||1|
|OTHP 6001||Mental Health Fieldwork||Spring/Year 1||1|
|OTHP 6002||Community Practice Fieldwork
|OTHP 6002||Geriatric Fieldwork||Summer/Year 1||1|
|OTHP 6003||Pediatric Fieldwork||Fall/Year 2||1|
|OTHP 6003||Adult Fieldwork||Fall/Year 2||1|