Two levels of fieldwork are required of the occupational therapy students enrolled at St. Ambrose University.
There are a myriad of other hands-on experiences and service learning opportunities within many of the classes. The following describes the formal fieldwork program that is set up by the fieldwork coordinators:
There are four Level I Fieldwork experiences: adult, older adult, pediatrics and intensive. These courses integrate information learned in other MOT courses through both field experiences and classroom activities. Students are placed in a variety of settings to obtain hands-on experiences with individuals and groups.
The MOT program believes in learning by doing and as a result, active participation is encouraged with the level of involvement determined by the site, the clients served, and the student's skill level. During these experiences, students work to improve skills such as observation, communication-both written and oral, assessment, treatment planning, and intervention. Students also grow to understand the OT process and how it impacts the clients and the facility. In the classroom, students have the opportunity to discuss and synthesize their experiences. Through the clinical and classroom experiences, students should display ethics and critical thinking while promoting occupational justice for others.
Occurs in the spring semester of the first year. This fieldwork is completed in 2, one-week experiences in two different practice settings. Students complete these experiences during January (the week before spring coursework begins) and one week during the semester (typically March/April). Placements utilized include community mental health facilities, hospitals, and various outpatient clinics. Fieldwork, in concert with OT with Adults and Occupational Studies I, assists students in applying their knowledge and skills when addressing the occupations of adults.
Occurs in the fall semester of the second year. This placement is an integration of skills learned in OT with Older Adults and Occupational Studies II. Typical placements for this experience include hospitals, outpatient facilities, extended care facilities, and home health agencies. This fieldwork addresses the needs of older adults while integrating the OT process.
Occurs in the spring semester of the second year. Placements utilized include pediatric OT clinics, schools, special education classrooms, mental health facilities, and adaptive equipment clinics. The knowledge gained during OT with Pediatrics and Occupational Studies III assists students in comprehending the dimensions of a child's occupations and the contexts observed during fieldwork help to solidify this knowledge.
Occurs following the second year. Students complete this 3-consecutive week experience during the summer months in a clinical area of choice. This placement is a culmination of skills learned in all MOT courses to this point. This concentrated period allows students to synthesize information, put it into practice, and evaluate the results when dealing with clients and their occupational interests.
Level II Fieldwork is intended to emphasize the application of an academically acquired body of knowledge by providing the student with an in-depth experience in the delivery of occupational therapy service to clients. This experience occurs after successful completion of all coursework. By the end of the Level II experiences, students are expected to be functioning at the level of an entry-level practitioner. This is an exciting phase of the professional program as the students move from "novice" in the OT profession towards "advanced beginner". This readies them to spring into the world of OT practice and be a lifelong learner with the goal of achieving the level of an expert practitioner.
The equivalent of 24 full-time weeks of Level II fieldwork must be completed. This may be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, but may not be less than half-time. The student can complete Level II fieldwork in a minimum of one setting and a maximum of four different settings.
Students should strive to select sites that provide experiences across the lifespan and with a variety of diagnoses. Students typically select two different twelve-week experiences. In addition to the required 24 weeks, students may also select an additional optional rotation in a special interest area. Optional rotations can be any length from 2-12 weeks though typically run 4-8 weeks.
For further information or questions about fieldwork, please contact Shelli Engelbrecht, MBAH, OTR/L, Clinical Assistant Professor, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at 563/333-6353 or EngelbrechtShelli@sau.edu or Brenda Hughes, MA, OTR/L, Clinical Assistant Professor, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at 563/333-6438 or HughesBrendaK@sau.edu.