Level I Fieldwork
As stated in the AOTA Standards for an Accredited Educational Program for the Occupational Therapist (1998), the purpose of the Level I fieldwork experience is to provide the student with experiences in relating to and understanding various client populations and various service agencies. 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 shall be integral to the program's curriculum design and include experiences designed to enrich didactic coursework through directed observation and participation in selected aspects of the occupational therapy process. The focus of these experiences is not intended to be independent performance. Level I fieldwork experiences may or may not occur in an occupational therapy setting with an occupational therapist. 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.
Level I fieldwork will occur in four semesters, beginning with the fall semester of the first professional year, and ending with the winter semester of the second professional year. The fieldwork experiences are part of the four-course Level I Fieldwork sequence. Students must successfully complete all Level I Fieldwork experiences to complete the Program and be granted the master's degree.
Each semester is 12 - 15 weeks long, and it is planned that each student will be in a Level I practice setting for a total of approximately 80 hours per semester. Actual days and times of a fieldwork experience will be determined by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, with the fieldwork sites and the fieldwork educators, to maximize the benefits for students, and to ensure that fieldwork educators are available to meet student needs.
At least one Level I fieldwork experience will be based on a service learning model. That is, students will provide service to a community agency that will assist that agency in meeting its service needs. Community agencies may include day care programs, respite programs, homeless shelters, nursing homes, support group associations, or any other organizations not associated with a hospital or rehabilitation program. In providing service to the agency, students may work one-on-one with clients, may develop programs for a group of clients, may conduct surveys or needs assessments, may plan and deliver educational activities, may write proposals for programming, implement new programs, or participate in evaluating the outcomes of a program. Regardless of the specific nature of the service, students will work to identify what services the agency provides, how those services match OT service, how OT could compliment what the agency provides, and propose/implement services consistent with occupational therapy's core philosophy.
Level II Fieldwork
As stated in the AOTA Standards for an Accredited Educational Program for the Occupational Therapist (1998), the goal of Level II fieldwork is to develop competent, entry level, generalist occupational therapists. Level II fieldwork shall include 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. The fieldwork experience shall be 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.
Level II fieldwork is scheduled to occur in the winter and spring of the second professional year of the program, on a full-time basis, for 12 weeks each semester. Alternative scheduling will be considered in extenuating circumstances, on a case-by-case basis. Level II fieldwork experiences will total 960 hours, to meet the requirement of the AOTA Standards (1998). Level II fieldwork will occur following successful completion of the student's didactic course work to include thesis or research projects. After successful completion of Level II fieldwork and grades are posted to the official transcript students will be eligible to take the NBCOT examination.
General Fieldwork Policies
The fieldwork portion of the academic program is the most important practice element of the curriculum, because it is the element that allows students to have intensive and extensive contact with clients and to move toward professional competence. It is the goal of the Program to provide students with a variety of experiences, which support the occupational science focus of the program. Thus, each student will have either a Level I or a Level II experience with occupational therapy interventions in a wellness, pediatric, geriatric, physical rehabilitation, or a mental health rehabilitation environment. In addition, each student will have at least one Level I community-based, service learning experience. The Level I experience may occur at a site without an occupational therapist. All Level II experiences will include supervision by an occupational therapist.
This approach has been taken to ensure that students experience client contact in some of the major areas of occupational therapy intervention. We are aware that these areas do not cover every possible treatment environment in which occupational therapists work, however, we hope that we will give students maximum general exposure to the most common environments. To this end the following policies have been developed:
- All didactic courses must be satisfactorily completed, demonstrating 80%competency in order for students to proceed to the next level.
- Students involved in Level I fieldwork are expected to invest time researching and reading and talking with student colleagues to understand the role of OT in a particular setting. Students must construct their schedule, their learning activities and their service goals for each Level I experience. Students are expected to be self-directed and goal-oriented in each placement in order to maximize their own learning and development.
- Level I fieldwork placements will be made by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator based on the nature and availability of fieldwork sites. Students will be asked to have several preferences for Level I placement, and every effort will be made to arrange a placement at one of those sites. However, due to the utilization of fieldwork sites, the number of students needing placement, and facility staffing requirements it is impossible for every student to be assigned to their preferred choices. The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will work with each student individually to ensure placement in a quality Level I site, which will meet the students needs. Students will be informed of these assignments in the first week of each semester in which Level I fieldwork is to occur.
- Students are not to contact potential fieldwork sites/supervisors on their own until they have consulted with the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. That is, if a student has a specific request, s/he must present this request for approval to the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. Attempts to bypass this process will be considered a breech of professional behavior.
- Students are expected to be in attendance for all assigned fieldwork hours. In the case of illness or other circumstances, which cause an absence in a Level I setting, students must contact both the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and the Fieldwork Educator to be granted an excused absence. In a Level II setting, contacting the Fieldwork Educator for an excused absence is sufficient. Make-up requirements for excused absences are to be negotiated with the Fieldwork Educator and approved by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. Unexcused absences will not be granted make-up privileges, and more than one unexcused absence will result in a grade of NC for that fieldwork experience.
- Every effort will be made to provide students with a Level I fieldwork experience that is no more than one hour's driving time from their homes. However, due to the utilization of fieldwork sites, the number of students needing placement, and facility staffing requirements, the Program may have to arrange for sites that are more distant, regardless of the students' homes. Students will have an opportunity to discuss their needs individually with the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, who will make all final decisions.
- Level II fieldwork sites can be completed at any location worldwide. However, the fieldwork educator (occupational therapist) must be a graduate of a WFOT accredited school. Additionally, the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator must review and approve the site. Students will be asked to have 3-4 preferences for Level II placement, and every effort will be made to arrange a placement at one of those sites. However, due to the utilization of fieldwork sites, the number of students needing placement, and facility staffing requirements it is impossible for every student to be assigned to their preferred choices. The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will work with each student individually to ensure placement in a quality Level II site, which will meet the students needs.
- For the Level II experience, if a student wishes to be assigned to a particular facility with which GVSU does not have a contract, it is possible for that site to be developed. If the site is subsequently developed and the assignment is arranged for the student, that student is obligated to use that assignment as his or her fieldwork placement. Exceptions to this policy will be made only in the most extreme circumstances, as determined by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and the Program Director.
- Students will be informed about Level II placements within three months prior to beginning Level II fieldwork. However, there are often extenuating circumstances in which placements are not finalized until much nearer the Level II fieldwork start date
- Once a fieldwork assignment has been made, it will not be changed, except in the event of extreme extenuating circumstances, as determined by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and the Program Director.
- In order to provide accessibility to Level II fieldwork sites for students with mobility restraints due to physical or socioeconomic limitations, those students who have dependent family (children or elderly) or other special needs to remain at home, will be given priority for placement at facilities close to their homes. All other students should plan on being assigned more distant placements. Again, students will have an opportunity to discuss their needs with the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator in advance of this planning, to determine if they qualify for this accommodation.
- The objectives of the fieldwork experiences, and the learning activities designed to meet these objectives, are developed collaboratively between the site fieldwork supervisor, the fieldwork educators and the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. This ensures that fieldwork objectives are collaboratively developed, and are appropriate and adequate to prepare students for entry-level competency, as required in the Standards, (AOTA, 1998).
- The determination of passage or failure of a fieldwork experience is ultimately the purview of the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, with input from the fieldwork educator. This determination is based upon performance in the field and in related clinical reasoning demonstrations/discussions.
- While students are on fieldwork, the policies of the fieldwork facilities in use will apply to them, such as requirements for dress, professional behavior, health, safety, hours of practice, etc.. Students are to make themselves aware of any such policies, and be prepared to comply, prior to the start of their fieldwork experiences.
- Consistent with AOTA requirements, all Level II fieldwork must be completed within 24 months of completion of the didactic program.