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Courses and Fieldwork: Fieldwork Education

What is Fieldwork?
Fieldwork is a crucial part of occupational therapy education. These experiences provide opportunities to carry out professional responsibilities with supervision and role modeling provided by a fieldwork educator. Fieldwork takes place in a variety of settings and areas of practice. Two types of fieldwork experiences are included within occupational therapy curricula, Level I and Level II fieldwork. The Tufts fieldwork coordinators arrange Level I and Level II fieldwork placements in collaboration with faculty, students, and site fieldwork educators/coordinators.

Fieldwork Coordinators

The fieldwork coordinators and office assistant negotiate the logistics of recruiting, assigning, confirming, and monitoring Level I and Level II fieldwork. Upon admission, and throughout the program, the fieldwork coordinators are a resource for students, fieldwork educators and faculty, providing orientation to Tufts fieldwork program and processes.

Same Site Model [SSM] of Fieldwork
The Same Site Model (SSM) is a unique approach to structuring fieldwork designed and piloted at Tufts. The SSM involves a student completing a Level I and Level II fieldwork experience at the same training site. Benefits of the SSM to include:

  • Becoming familiar with the setting
  • Increasing comfort by decreasing anxiety around expectations
  • Gaining insights regarding preparation for Level II fieldwork

Pilot survey results suggested the SSM might help decrease stress for both students and Fieldwork Educators (Evenson, Barnes & Cohn, AJOT 2002). Currently, the fieldwork office is actively engaged in additional research projects with collaborators from other universities and fieldwork educators to explore fieldwork education related topics such as; student outcomes, fieldwork educator perceptions of facilitators/barriers to having fieldwork students, occupational therapy/occupational therapy assistant collaborative Level II fieldwork.

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Benefits of Fieldwork Supervision
Fieldwork provides opportunities for exchange of academic and practical knowledge and skill development for students and practitioners. Students share theoretical and research developments with Fieldwork Educators while learning to assume professional roles and responsibilities.

A recent national survey of fieldwork educators found that the top 5 benefits of having students included: an opportunity to update practice/keep current, gain personal satisfaction, give back to their alma mater/profession, develop supervisory and clinical reasoning skills (Roberts, Evenson, Kaldenburg, Barnes & Ozelie. OT Practice, 2015, May 25).

Upon completion of a student's Level II fieldwork, the occupational therapy department awards a credit voucher to the training site, valid for full tuition of one eligible course at the university (a Tufts course awards one course credit which is equivalent to 4 semester hours at other colleges).

Additionally, the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) recognizes fieldwork education as a professional development activity, allowing 1 Professional Development Unit (PDU) per Level I student and 1 PDU per week of Level II fieldwork student supervision, up to a maximum of 18 units per LI and LII fieldwork activity (total of 36 units) in a 3 year period.

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