Fieldwork is an integral part of the student’s occupational therapy education and is a requirement for graduation and professional certification. The fieldwork experience is a dynamic educational process in which occupational therapy students are able to experience the roles, responsibilities, and rewards of facilitating occupational therapy services. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (2009) “the purpose of fieldwork education is to propel each generation of occupational therapy practitioners from the role of student to that of practitioner” (p. 393).
Level I Fieldwork
Students will actively participate in three Level I Fieldwork rotations. Level I Fieldwork experiences will occur in three semesters and are integrated with the academic courses, beginning with the summer semester of the first year, and fall and spring semester of the second year. These experiences will be completed for a minimum of 32 hours for each rotation and will occur over the course of the semester or during the last week of the semester. Each sequence of fieldwork will be individualized for every student to gain knowledge of working with a variety of clients that have conditions and diagnoses across the lifespan in diverse settings.
The students may complete these rotations in traditional settings, such as a hospital, school district, or skilled nursing facility, and in emerging practice areas, such as community based mental health clinics, productive aging, and health and wellness centers. The Level I fieldwork experience may not be substituted for any parts of the student’s Level II fieldwork experience (Standard C.1.10).
The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (2011) states, “The goal of Level I fieldwork is to introduce students to the fieldwork experience, to apply knowledge to practice, and to develop understanding of the needs of clients” (p. 34). Each Level I Fieldwork experience will facilitate professional and practice based skills that the student acquires through coursework up to the point of placement and will progress in expectations and rigor to promote the progression into a successful Level II Fieldwork student.
Level II Fieldwork
The goal of Level II fieldwork is to develop competent, entry-level, generalist occupational therapists. Level II fieldwork must include an in-depth experience in delivering occupational therapy services to clients, focusing on the application of purposeful and meaningful occupation and research, administration, and management of occupational therapy services.
Students will actively participate in a minimum of two Level II Fieldwork rotations. Level II Fieldwork experiences will occur in two semesters, with the first one beginning towards the end of the summer semester of the second year and continuing through the beginning of the fall semester of the third year. The second rotation will be completed for the remainder of the fall semester of the third year. These experiences will be completed full-time for a minimum of 24 weeks. A student may complete no more than one Level II Fieldwork experience on a part-time basis due to an extenuating circumstance. The AFWC will review the extenuating circumstance and make the final decision if it qualifies for a part-time rotation. The student’s fieldwork site and fieldwork educator will also have to be in agreement with the part-time hours (Standard C.1.13).
The student can complete Level II fieldwork in a minimum of one setting if it is reflective of more than one practice area, or in a maximum of four different settings (Standard C.1.12). The students may complete these rotations in traditional and/or emerging practice settings. In all settings, psychosocial factors influencing engagement in occupation must be understood and integrated for the development of client-centered, meaningful, occupation-based outcomes (Standard C.1.12). Level II fieldwork experiences will be designed to promote clinical reasoning and reflective of practice, to transmit the values and beliefs that enable ethical practice, and to develop professionalism and competence in career responsibilities (Standard C.1.11).
These rotations will provide the student with an opportunity to take the learned knowledge obtained from the academic program and apply it to clinical practice. Each student will develop competencies that are unique to the setting that they are in and will ultimately develop the student into a clinician and a practice scholar. Upon successful completion of both fieldwork rotations, the students will have vast knowledge and experience with diverse clients who have various psychosocial, cognitive, and physical performance impairments, and the diverse service delivery models that are representative of current occupational therapy trends. The semester following the last Level II Fieldwork rotation will be the student’s residency semester.
Please contact Gina Buban, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Clinical Professor at Regina.Buban@nau.edu to become a fieldwork educator or if you have fieldwork related questions.