Fieldwork is a crucial, highly regulated component of the occupational therapy education process and as such, adheres to standards established by the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and the programs’ curriculum design. The University of Minnesota is a “land grant institution” which means that a primary purpose is to meet the needs of Minnesota. The Program in Occupational Therapy, as part of the Academic Health Center of the University of Minnesota, emphasizes student placement in Minnesota rotations. All students should expect and plan for travel across the state of Minnesota for level I and level II fieldwork.
Fieldwork occurs at two levels- level I and level II experiences. It provides the opportunity to participate in a variety of real world experiences, develop reasoning skills, and apply learning that has occurred throughout the didactic curriculum. Students interact with professionals and develop competence in both professional and practice skills.
Level I Fieldwork
Level I fieldwork is attached to several courses during semesters two through four. Level I fieldwork provides the opportunity to apply course learning in a practice context under the supervision of a qualified licensed practitioner. The goal of Level I fieldwork, according the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education is to introduce the fieldwork experience, and allow application of knowledge to practice, while developing understanding of client needs.
Level II Fieldwork
Given the 22-25 month length of the curriculum, Level II fieldwork occurs at the end of the didactic curriculum and takes place any time from January through September of the second year. Based upon individual student characteristics and program needs, this time frame may differ. Level II fieldwork supports development of a generalist occupational therapist. Students participate in a variety of settings and with a variety of populations. Fieldwork aligns with the curriculum design and consist of a minimum of 24 weeks full time equivalent experience. This is typically arranged into two-twelve week experiences. It is the policy of the University of MN that all level II fieldwork must be completed within 24 months of finishing the didactic semesters.
Resources for Fieldwork Preparation
Several Resources are available to prepare students for fieldwork.
The fieldwork student manual guides students fulfilling their requirement in Level II fieldwork. For more in depth information about the level II fieldwork model and the level II fieldwork process review the sample fieldwork manual. Note- the Fieldwork Manual serves as the syllabus for the Level II fieldwork courses and is updated and modified annually.
Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Survival Guide: A Student Planner. By Bonnie Napier. ISBN-13: 978-1569002926. This book is available in several editions and can assist you in transitioning from your academic preparation to level II fieldwork.
The Successful Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Student. By Karen Sladyk. ISBN-13: 978-1556425622. This book is designed to assist OT/OTA students in their preparation for their fieldwork experiences.
AOTA Resources for Students (webpage: http://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Students.aspx). The student web page of the American Occupational Therapy Association. Browse here for answers to your questions and to explore fieldwork opportunities within the profession and the association.
Fieldwork Timelines and Scheduling
Level I fieldwork
Course directors assign level I fieldwork location, time, and a key contact person for the placement. Students coordinate with the key site contact person to complete fieldwork within an assigned time frame.
Level II fieldwork
Demand for fieldwork sites is at an all-time high. More students are competing for fewer fieldwork placements; a result of high demand for occupational therapists and changing productivity standards for fieldwork educators. Level II fieldwork planning begins before matriculation and continues up to and beyond notice of your placements. As closely as possible, Level II Fieldwork is scheduled according to the AOTA suggested fieldwork dates. University of MN occupational therapy students are typically scheduled in any of the following time frames:
January (first business day) through March
Late March/early April through mid-June (typically around Fri, June 17)
Late June through mid-September
At times there may be only a weekend between rotations. Do not plan vacations or other significant events during the period in which level II fieldwork education is scheduled.
Level II fieldwork is an integral part of entry-level occupational therapy education, requiring careful placement of students into experiences. Placement decisions align with the University of Minnesota, The Academic Health Center, The Program in Occupational Therapy, and the fieldwork model. Sites must demonstrate the capacity to provide opportunities for occupational therapy practice congruent with expectations of the Program in Occupational Therapy. Once these requirements have been verified, an Affiliation Agreement, a legal document negotiated between the University of Minnesota and the fieldwork site, is implemented.