Clinical Education - Fieldwork Description and Manual Pages
UNC-Chapel Hill Occupational Science curriculum design includes developmentally sequenced clinical experiences throughout the course of study.
Clinical experiences are considered part of the curriculum, and are designed to support learning relative to the curriculum themes. Class discussions and assignments draw upon clinical experiences to build an understanding of the relationship between academic coursework and occupational therapy practice. These experiences are in a variety of settings, from community based to institutions, with individuals of varying ages, ability levels, and health conditions. Over the course of the academic program, students are exposed to all curriculum objectives in fieldwork experiences. Many courses have additional community based projects, service learning and assignments that are not formal fieldwork experiences. An example of this is student observations in day care centers during the second year of study.
Becoming an occupational therapist encompasses development of clinical as well as professional skills. Communication, receptiveness to feedback, taking initiative, dependability and other interpersonal behaviors are essential learning outcomes of fieldwork and coursework.
Two levels of fieldwork experiences, Fieldwork I and II, are offered in accordance with the American Occupational Therapy Association "Standards of an Accredited Educational Program for the Occupational Therapist." These experiences are supervised by occupational therapists, as well as other professionals depending on the setting and the purpose of the fieldwork.
Fieldwork I experiences are incorporated in academic courses. Fieldwork I (FW I) is an integral component of learning the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the occupational therapist. From the beginning of the program, structured opportunities for conducting observation, interview, assessment, evaluation and treatment in clinical settings enable the student to apply course work and theoretical information to practice settings. Course instructors plan Fieldwork I assignments in a developmental progression for gradual building of clinical skills. In early courses, FW I expectations focus on developing observation and interviewing skills. In the fall of the first year, all FW I occurs in the Triangle area. Week long FW I experiences are scheduled in the spring semesters of each year. Students are frequently assigned to FW sites outside of the Triangle for the week-long experiences.
Fieldwork II is a separate course for which students will register as OCCT20A and OCCT 720B. Students are required to complete a 12 week Level II placement with adults and a 12 week FW II placement in areas of practice related to their special focus. Except in rare circumstances FW II is a full time experience. Students complete the first FW II experience with adults during mid-May to early August following completion of the first academic year. The second FW II experience is scheduled following completion of the second academic year, also in the mid-May to early-August time period. For reasons of scheduling or so the student can take advantage of special opportunities, it is possible to delay FW II for a few months. There is no vacation or holiday time during FW II experiences. Students should not assume a Monday to Friday Schedule. The Student follows the schedule of the site during FW II. In many hospitals and rehabilitation centers, for example, occupational therapists may work weekends or four 10 hour days. All occupational therapy students must complete Level II Fieldwork within 24 months following completion of academic preparation.
The Fieldwork Manuals are updated every school year includes information on fieldwork preparation, registration, and grading. Also included is information about selection and assignments of sites.
Sue Coppola, MS, OTR/L, BCG
Division of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, CB# 7122
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599