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What is Fieldwork?

The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Commission on Education defines fieldwork 1 as an introduction for “students to the fieldwork experience, and develop a basic comfort level with an understanding of the needs of the client” (AOTA, 1999). Fieldwork 1 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” (AOTA, 1999).  Qualified personnel for supervision for Level 1 Fieldwork may include, but is not limited to, academic or fieldwork educators, occupational therapy practitioners, certified (nationally) psychologists, physician assistants, teachers, social workers, nurses, physical therapists, teachers, etc (ACOTE, 2012).

AOTA COE’s Discussion of Fieldwork 1

The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Commission on Education defines fieldwork 2 as “an integral part of OT education, should be designed to promote clinical reasoning and reflective practice, to support ethical practice through transmission of the values and beliefs of the profession, to communicate and model professionalism as a developmental process and a career responsibility” (AOTA, 2013). In addition, a fieldwork experience must meet the requirements as state forth by the Standards for the Accredited Education Program for the Occupational Therapist (AOTA, 2012; ACOTE, 2012)

AOTA COE Discussion of Fieldwork 2

At Texas Woman’s University, we provide multiple opportunities for fieldwork rotations.   Fieldwork experiences are designed to reflect a variety of occupational therapy services, both traditional and non- traditional.  In occupational therapy education, the word fieldwork is used to reflect these various types of experiences (this is compared to our allied health partners that use clinical internships or clinical rotations). Occupational therapy services and practice areas include many settings outside traditional hospital or medical model settings such as clinics or rehabilitation centers/skilled nursing facilities.  Occupational therapy practitioners provide services or practice in diverse community settings, emerging practice areas, private homes, work and industrial settings and school systems.

Fieldwork experiences are designed to encompass a range of OT services. These experiences allow the student to explore concepts learned in the classroom or the laboratory. Each fieldwork experience is designed to progressively build on previous skills and knowledge.  

Texas Woman’s University (TWU) OT curriculum design provides fieldwork experiences during each semester.  Level 1 experiences are embedded in coursework and Level 2 experiences are full time experiences at an off campus location.  These fieldwork experiences allow the student to progress naturally from one experience to another to support learning and development towards entry level practitioner roles.

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 are foundation components towards general practitioner competency.  It is the responsibility of the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and all TWU faculty to ensure the ACOTE standards are met while simultaneously providing enriching experiences for all students.

At Texas Woman’s University, we require that students accept Level 2 placements (and Level 1, when possible) outside the two major metroplex areas of Dallas and Houston (all suburbs included). This means, a student participating in Level 2 experiences as part of Texas Woman’s University Occupational Therapy program will be placed outside the metroplex for at least one of his/her fieldwork rotations.  Exceptions to this policy are considered one an individual basis, based on very specific student needs.  Unacceptable reasons to require remaining include, but are not limited to: pet care, change in relationship status, changing one’s mind, site location, site working hours or cost of living while at site.



AOTA (1999)

AOTA (2013)

page last updated 7/13/2017 2:02 PM