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Fieldwork/Experiential Education

Fieldwork Education: ACOTE Standards & Definitions

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) establishes Fieldwork Education Standards for entry-level OTD programs (ACOTE, 2011). As defined by ACOTE, “Fieldwork Education is a crucial part of professional preparation and is best integrated as a component of the curriculum design. Fieldwork experiences should be implemented and evaluated for their effectiveness by the educational institution. The experience should provide the student with the opportunity to carry out professional responsibilities under supervision of a qualified occupational therapy practitioner serving as a role model” [Standard C.1.0]. As addressed in the Reference Manual of the Official Documents of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA, 2016), fieldwork consists of two levels of applied learning experiences in which students participate in real-time in clinical, educational or other contexts that are appropriate to the provision of occupational therapy services.

Level I – “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” (ACOTE, 2013 Interpretive Guide).

  1. Level I fieldwork student - Occupational therapy Level I fieldwork students are those individuals who are currently in the process of taking didactic coursework, who will participate in directed observation and participation in selected aspects of the occupational therapy process that are aligned with course content knowledge and laboratory competencies [Standard C.1.8].
  2. Level I fieldwork supervision - Occupational therapy Level I fieldwork students are supervised by occupational therapy and non-occupational therapy personnel who are certified and who know about occupational therapy and are cognizant of the goals and objectives of the experience (ACOTE, 2011; COE, 1999) [Standard C.1.9]. 

Level II – Level II fieldwork consists of two, 12-week full-time experiences that are representative of more than one occupational therapy practice area. Level II fieldwork must be implemented under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist who meets state licensure requirements and who has a minimum of one-year of practice experience. For fieldwork outside the United States, supervision must be provided by an occupational therapist who graduated from an academic program that is approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and has at least one year of practice experience. This fieldwork affiliation cannot be longer than twelve weeks.

 “The goal of Level II fieldwork is to develop competent, entry-level, generalist occupational therapists. Level II fieldwork must be integral to the program’s curriculum design and must include an in-depth experience in delivering occupational therapy services to clients, focusing on the application of purposeful and meaningful occupational than research, administration, and management of occupational therapy services…….” (ACOTE, 2013 Interpretive Guide).

  • Level II fieldwork student – Occupational therapy Level II fieldwork students are at the point in their professional education where they “…..have completed the necessary and relevant didactic coursework that has prepared them for the field experience.” Level II fieldwork students will have the “….opportunity to apply theory and techniques acquired through the classroom and Level I fieldwork learning” (AOTA, 2016).
  • Level II fieldwork supervision - Occupational therapy Level II fieldwork students are “supervised by a currently licensed or credentialed occupational therapy practitioner who has a minimum of 1 year of practice experience subsequent to initial certification and is adequately prepared to serve as a fieldwork educator.” (AOTA, 2016) [C.1.14].. Fieldwork educators must be in compliance with state and federal regulations and ACOTE (2011) standards 

Doctoral Experiential Residency: ACOTE Standards and Description

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) establishes Fieldwork Education Standards for entry-level OTD programs (ACOTE, 2011). As defined by ACOTE, “the goal of the doctoral experiential component is to develop occupational therapists with advanced skills (those that are beyond a generalist level). The doctoral experiential component shall be an integral part of the program’s curriculum design and shall include an in-depth experience in one or more of the following: clinical practice skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education or theory development. “ The OTD program’s Doctoral Experiential Residency Project (DERP) has been designed to meet or exceed ACOTE Standard C.2.1 – C.2.5.

The WNE OTD Doctoral Research and Residency Project has two phases:

  1. A preparatory phase which involves knowledge and skill building and the design of a research and residency project in Years One and Two. Courses associated with this phase include: OTD 534, 624, 632/633, 642/643 and 662/663);
  2. An experiential/scholarship phase which involves implementation of the proposed research and residency project, and the production and dissemination of a scholarly report on the findings in Year Three (OTD 780/785).

Students must successfully complete all academic coursework, fieldwork, and the competency requirement prior to beginning the experiential/scholarship phase of the Doctoral Research and Residency Project. The minimum duration of the Doctoral Experiential Component is 16 weeks (640 hours), which may be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. 

No more than 20% of the 640 hours can be completed outside of the mentored setting.  The Doctoral Research and Residency Project must be completed within 24 months of the completion of academic coursework and Level II Fieldwork. Failure to do so may result in dismissal from the Program.  Extenuating circumstances may permit an extension or leave of absence that may allow the 24-month period to be extended.  The OTD Leadership Team will determine if an extension is appropriate.