The fieldwork experience is an important component of occupational therapy education. Fieldwork enables students to practice what they have learned in actual settings with real clients. At Washington University, students prepare for fieldwork in their Professional Identify and Practice courses and complete two Level I Fieldwork experiences and 60 hours self-directed experiences during their studies. After fulfillment of their academic program, students complete two, 12-week Level II Fieldwork experiences. WUOT maintains fieldwork contracts with more than 500 locations throughout the U.S. in a variety of settings across the lifespan. Students have the opportunity to choose their Fieldwork Level I and Level II based on their career interests and professional goals. Students choose the setting and locations within guidelines, availability and requirements set by the Program in Occupational Therapy and the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Students pursuing a doctoral degree (OTD) are required to complete one additional 14-week doctoral capstone following the fieldwork experiences.
Students complete a one week (40 hours) of Level I Fieldwork during the spring of the first year and the fall of the second year of the occupational therapy program. These experiences are designed to orient students to various practice settings and populations of clients served by occupational therapy. This first-hand experience is an invaluable learning opportunity to integrate occupational therapy theory and practice.
The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (2011) for occupational therapists 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. 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. 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.
Every MSOT student must successfully complete two Level II Fieldwork (12 weeks) experiences totaling six months to fulfill the requirements for graduation from the Washington University Program in Occupational Therapy. Fieldwork Level II experiences are credited courses (6 credit hours each).
Every OTD student must successfully complete two Level II Fieldwork experiences and one doctoral capstone (14 weeks) to fulfill the requirements for graduation from the Washington University Program in Occupational Therapy. Level II (6 credits) and the doctoral capstone (7 credits) experiences are credited courses.
Fieldwork is an integral part of the educational experience. During this time students gain the opportunity to apply their knowledge and be mentored in the process. It is also the first time students assume responsibility for clients and demonstrate behaviors and ethical decision-making using the evidence available of person, environment, and occupational factors that help clients achieve their own goals. It is our objective that students engage in and demonstrate the capacity to practice in a way that supports their clients in achieving quality of life through occupation.
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Current, future, and accepted applicants are encouraged to visit. We also welcome people who are exploring career options and considering occupational therapy. Dr. Kathy Kniepmann, one of our faculty members, opens our visit sessions with an informal presentation and discussion, followed by a tour that’s led by one of our current occupational therapy students.
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