New fieldwork programs

Why Take a Fieldwork Student?

The following information was collected by Allison Krumpe, MS, OTR/L from members of the Virginia Fieldwork Council in February 2011.

Benefits to the Profession:

  • Give back
  • Reciprocity
  • Professional obligation

Benefits to the Therapist:

  • Self-analysis: "Keeps me on my toes"
  • Improve knowledge/learn new techniques
  • Self-gain
  • Enjoy teaching, training, educating
  • "Breaks up routine"
  • Continuing education credits
  • Career development
  • "More free time when student becomes more independent"

Benefits to the Facility:

  • Staff recruitment
  • Students provide tools/equipment
  • Students provide inservices
  • Students teach/share new research, treatment to staff
  • Required by teaching hospitals

Benefits to the Student:

  • Train, educate, teach
  • Great need for clinical site
  • Gives students opportunity to learn with "actual patients"
  • Help students gain confidence, reach their potential
  • Networking

Benefits to the University:

  • Essential part of the student education; meets ACOTE standards
  • Gives students opportunity to learn and gain confidence with actual clients, families, and OTRs and other professionals.
  • Opportunity to keep in touch with changes in health care or education within the community and the country
  • Networking and collaboration in research
  • Mentoring new fieldwork supervisors and students
  • Learning from others not educated at VCU

How to Develop a Fieldwork Program with VCU

VCU collaborates with fieldwork sites to develop an occupational therapy fieldwork program. There are many resources available so supervisors are not recreating the wheel. Initially, we discuss VCU´s philosophy and mission, our curriculum, and our Fieldwork goals for students. Together through a site visit, an interview on the phone, and/or sharing of written materials, we collaboratively determine if the fieldwork site can and wants to become an affiliate with VCU´s Department of OT. If we agree this looks like a good match between VCU and your facility for fieldwork experiences, we pursue a legal contract/agreement between VCU School of Allied Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy and your facility. These contracts/agreements often take a few months to be approved, especially if your facility has your own contract and cannot use our VCU contract or if you are a facility outside of Virginia.

You will be asked to complete a Fieldwork Data Form: American Occupational Therapy Association. (2009a, July). AOTA fieldwork data form.

If you are interested in becoming a fieldwork site for VCU, please contact Jayne Shepherd, Director of Fieldwork (804-828-1564 or email

Are you ready for a student? Do you have the ability to supervise? Take this self-assessment tool and determine if this is a good time for you to begin a Fieldwork Program. You can earn 1 PDU for taking this self-assessment.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2009). Self-Assessment Tool for Fieldwork Educator Competency.

The AOTA Self Assessment Tool for Fieldwork Educator Competency defines Supervision Competency (AOTA, 2009) as monitoring and guiding student achievement of entry-level practice

Specific Supervisor/Educator Competencies
AOTA Self Assessment Tool for Fieldwork Educator Competency (AOTA, 2009)
Areas of Competencies

  • Develop, implement an organized FW program

  • Follow legal/professional standards and environmental factors

  • Facilitate development of professional skills

  • Evaluate entry level student performance practice.

  • Self-awareness of strengths and needs

  • Develop strategies for professional behaviors.

  • Evaluate student performance for achievement of entry-level practice.

  • Facilitate professional skills
Specific Competencies 1. Initiating support for a FW program
2. Designing a FW program
3. FW contracts/letter of agreement
4. Advance student preparation concerns (drug screen, child abuse clearance, criminal check, etc)
5. Program evaluation
6. Developing a FW manual and other student resources
7. Developing an orientation
8. Working with AFWC´s
1. Learning theories
2. Teaching to diverse student populations (age groups, culture, disabilities, etc)
3. Understanding learning and teaching styles
4. Skills for teaching
5. Developing clinical reasoning
6. Occupation-based fieldwork
7. Evidence-based fieldwork
1. Understand styles and models of supervision
2. Communication and feedback
3. Progressing supervision throughout the learning cycle
4. Supervision in special situations (at-risk students, advanced students)
1. Administering and scoring the AOTA Fieldwork Performance Evaluation (FWPE)
2. Developing site specific objectives/ student learning contracts

AOTA Free Resources for Developing a FW Program

AOTA has a whole section on "Developing a Fieldwork Program"

These resources range from: