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Fieldwork Program


The Fieldwork Program and Purpose

Learning theories support the supposition that didactic material, supplemented with experiential opportunities, facilitates optimal learning. One way occupational therapy programs provide experiential learning opportunities is through required fieldwork rotations. The goal of Midwestern University's Occupational Therapy Program is to exceed the standards set by the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). It is the student's responsibility to fully engage in all fieldwork opportunities and to integrate the didactic component of the program into the fieldwork experience. This manual serves to provide information to enhance the fieldwork experience, as well as provide guidelines for post-fieldwork procedures. Please read this manual carefully and contact one of the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators if you have any questions.

Supervised fieldwork experiences in occupational therapy are an integral part of both the educational process and professional preparation. It is intended to complement academic preparation by offering additional opportunities for growth, learning to apply knowledge, developing and testing clinical skills, and for validating and consolidating those functions that comprise professional competence.

The Occupational Therapy Program at Midwestern University educates students as generalists with a broad exposure to the delivery models and systems used in settings where occupational therapy is currently practiced. Fieldwork education is to be provided in settings that are equipped to meet the curriculum goals, and provide educational experiences applicable to the academic program. While recognizing the diversity of students and their career goals, the OT Program ensures that each student receives this broad exposure through placement in varied fieldwork settings and with clients across the lifespan. The student is counseled as early as the application interview process, and then again more formally in the Fieldwork Foundations courses, that fieldwork assignments must be diverse. The student fieldwork selection process is monitored by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators, as well as the Faculty, to ensure that students' fieldwork experiences are varied.

The purpose of fieldwork experience is to provide occupational therapy students with the opportunity to integrate academic knowledge with application skills at progressively higher levels of performance and responsibility. The unique contributions of fieldwork experience include the opportunity to test first hand the theories and facts learned in academic study and to refine skills through client interaction under the supervision of qualified personnel. Fieldwork also provides the student with situations in which to practice interpersonal skills with patients/clients and staff and to develop characteristics essential to productive working relationships.

The goal of Level I fieldwork is to introduce students to the fieldwork experience, and develop a basic comfort level with and understanding of the needs of clients. Level I fieldwork is integral to the program's curriculum design and includes experiences designed to enrich didactic coursework through directed observation and participation in selected aspects of the occupational therapy process. Qualified personnel for supervised Level I fieldwork include, but are not limited to, occupational therapy practitioners initially certified nationally, psychologists, physician assistants, teachers, social workers, nurses, and physical therapists.

The goal of Level II fieldwork is to develop competent, entry-level, generalist occupational therapists. Level II fieldwork is integral to the program's curriculum design and includes an in-depth experience in delivering occupational therapy services to clients, focusing on the application of purposeful and meaningful occupation and/or research, administration and management of occupational therapy services. It is required that the student be exposed to a variety of clients across the life span and to a variety of settings. The fieldwork experience is designed to promote clinical reasoning and reflective practice; to transmit the values and beliefs that enable ethical practice; and to develop professionalism and competence as career responsibilities.

Fieldwork Experiences - Class of 2017 and 2018

All Midwestern OT students in the Class of 2017 and 2018 are required to complete a 2.0 credit, 2 week Level I-A fieldwork rotation and a 1.0 credit Level I-B fieldwork rotation. All students also complete two 12-week Level II fieldwork rotations.

Requirements

A student must complete all coursework at a passing level and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 to be eligible for Level II fieldwork placement. A student must complete all Level II fieldwork at a satisfactory level in order to graduate and be eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Examination. ACOTE Standards require that students complete a minimum of 24 weeks of full-time Level II fieldwork. This may be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, but may not be less than half time as defined by the fieldwork site. 

Performance and Evaluation

Level I and Level II fieldwork experiences are designated as courses in the academic program. Students will receive a grade of pass (P), fail (F) or incomplete (I) for each Level I and Level II fieldwork experience. Level I grades are determined by criteria on individual course syllabi. Level II grades are based criteria on the course syllabi that include the scores received on the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Fieldwork Performance Evaluation (FWPE) form, completion and receipt of the Student Evaluation of the Fieldwork Experience (SEFWE) form, completion of all course requirements, and approval of the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators and the Program Director. Fieldwork Educators are asked to complete the AOTA Fieldwork Performance Evaluation (FWPE) at mid-term and at the end of fieldwork rotation. A student must achieve at least minimal competence as determined by the FWPE while on fieldwork in order to pass a Level II fieldwork course.

Student Supervision

Fieldwork educators who supervise students must remain sensitive to the changing needs of each student while, at the same time, promoting the student's development of effective therapeutic relationships, evaluation and treatment techniques, and clinical problem-solving skills. In addition, the fieldwork educator must facilitate the assumption of professional responsibility, behavior and attitudes, self-confidence, and personal growth. The Midwestern University Academic Fieldwork Coordinators are available to collaborate with Fieldwork Educators throughout the fieldwork process.

In addition to regularly scheduled meeting times, supervision includes spontaneous discussions, instruction, and guidance. The student/supervisor relationship should be a shared growth experience built on mutually determined needs and objectives. Fieldwork educators give students the feedback essential to their development as therapists and receive students' feedback, which is essential to continuing development as fieldwork educators. The need for open, direct, and timely communication cannot be over emphasized.

Fieldwork educators provide a solid foundation and framework of knowledge and experience from which the student can develop a professional identity and philosophy. Independent functioning, thought, and experimentation are encouraged. Different approaches to student supervision may be indicated for different students. There is no single "right" way for the student supervisor to approach every problem or situation. Student supervision is essentially a relationship, and each student offers a new and different experience to the fieldwork educators. Through experience, each fieldwork educator will develop personal abilities and philosophy concerning the "techniques" and "approaches" useful for supervising students.

Fieldwork requirements are guidelines that represent minimal expectations of performance. The amount and depth of knowledge and experience the student gains depends on the degree to which the student shares the responsibility for learning. The end result of the fieldwork experience is to have the student prepared to take on the responsibilities of an OT entry-level therapist in a given area of practice.

Ongoing communication will occur through web discussions, emails, telephone calls and fieldwork site visits during the time students are on their Level II fieldwork rotations. The academic fieldwork coordinator makes every effort to stay in communication with students and fieldwork educators throughout the process. Fieldwork educators and students are encouraged to contact the academic fieldwork coordinators with any questions or concerns.

It is the students' responsibility to communicate with the academic fieldwork coordinator when there are issues, health concerns, including pregnancy, absenteeism, anxieties, or other matters that may impact their performance and successful completion of these courses.

Illinois Campus, OT Program

                                 

Minetta Wallingford, DrOT, OTR/L Anne Kiraly-Alvarez, OTD, OTR/L
Associate Professor & Academic Fieldwork Coordinator          Assistant Professor & Academic Fieldwork Coordinator       
Midwestern University Midwestern University
Occupational Therapy Program Occupational Therapy Program
555 31st Street 555 31st Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515 Downers Grove, IL 60515
Phone: 630.515.7208 Phone: 630.515.7340
Fax: 630.515.7418 Fax: 630.515.7418
Email: mwalli@midwestern.edu

Email: akiral@midwestern.edu

Advising

All fieldwork advising is handled by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators. The Program Director is immediately informed and continually updated on the progress of any student experiencing difficulties during a clinical experience. Other faculty advisors, when necessary, may be involved in the process. Students who have concerns about their fieldwork progress, or Fieldwork Educators who have concerns, should contact one of the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators immediately.

Costs

All students must be prepared financially to assume the costs that will accompany any fieldwork assignment. In addition to full tuition and fees, expenses may include: additional immunizations, drug testing, physical examinations, finger printing, transportation, travel, parking, housing, and meals, as well as incidental costs such as materials for a special project. It is advisable for the student to have access to a car during fieldwork in the event that public transportation is inadequate or they have to travel some distance to their location. 

Due to the limited availability of excellent fieldwork sites throughout the Chicagoland and suburban areas, all students must be prepared to affiliate at sites away from their permanent address for one 12-week placement, which would then require relocation. Studens must be prepared financially to assume the costs associated with this temporary relocation. When it is possible, consideration will be given to those students who have special needs or circumstances.

Guidelines for Assigning Fieldwork Placements

The Occupational Therapy Program at Midwestern University adheres to the ACOTE guidelines which state that a graduate from an ACOTE accredited master's degree level occupational therapy program must be educated as a generalist with a broad exposure to the delivery models and systems used in settings where occupational therapy is currently practiced and where it is emerging as a service. Fieldwork education is to be provided in settings that are equipped to meet the curriculum goals, and provide educational experiences applicable to the academic program. While recognizing the diversity of students and their career goals, the OT Program ensures that each student receives this broad exposure through placement in varied fieldwork settings and with clients across the lifespan. The student is counseled as early as the application interview process, and then again more formally in fieldwork meetings and in the Fieldwork Foundations courses, that fieldwork assignments must be diverse. The student fieldwork placement process is monitored by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators, to ensure that students' fieldwork placements are varied. The OT Program also evaluates compliance with this standard through retrospective review of its placement history.

The Academic Fieldwork Coordinators are committed to providing a carefully orchestrated effort to ensure optimal fieldwork experiences. The process involves the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators collaborating with fieldwork sites and students, when possible, to maximize student learning experiences. Students will be assigned fieldwork placements based on available reservations from fieldwork sites for each rotation. The Academic Fieldwork Coordinators may utilize various factors when assigning fieldwork placements, including, but not limited to, cumulative GPA scores, student interests, geographic residence, preferred learning styles, and previous exposure/experiences. Ultimately, the final decision regarding all fieldwork placements is the responsibility of the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators. Placement conflicts will be handled between the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators and the student.

Students will be notified of their final reservation at a site no later than one week prior to the initial starting date of Level I fieldworks and no later than eight weeks prior to the initial starting date of Level II fieldworks. Student requests to change their fieldwork placement after fieldwork reservations have been confirmed will not be honored. Conflicts, cancellations, and special circumstances do not apply to the above-noted timeline and will be handled on a case-by-case basis as deemed appropriate by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators. Fieldwork reservations are subject to change due to cancellations and unforeseen circumstances. Changes may be made to maximize the most positive learning experiences for all students. In these circumstances, every attempt will be made to make changes that reflect the most positive learning experiences for all students.

In the event that extraordinary circumstances occur that have the potential to affect fieldwork placement, the student is responsible for notifying the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator immediately. The Academic Fieldwork Coordinators and Program Director will then determine if the circumstances warrant special needs consideration.

Due to the limited availability of excellent fieldwork sites throughout the Chicagoland and suburban areas, all students must be prepared to affiliate at sites away from their permanent address for one 12-week placement, which would then require relocation. When it is possible, consideration will be given to those students who have special needs or circumstances. Students desiring an out-of-area fieldwork placement in a particular geographic area will be given specific instructions on how to apply for these fieldworks, and these placements will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

OT Fieldwork Practice Settings

The stated practice settings set by ACOTE are also used in the Fieldwork Data Forms. Fieldwork Data Forms are available for students to view in the OT Program. Students may be placed in any of the following settings or other emerging areas of practice that are available at the time of the fieldwork match:

1. Hospital based settings

2. Community based settings