Fieldwork at UND

Fieldwork allows students to apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom to their practice and pass from the role of student to that of practitioner.

The University of North Dakota occupational therapy department is fortunate to have a strong legacy in regard to fieldwork education as many talented practitioners have worked with our students over the past 50 years. With over 170 fieldwork sites to choose from across a broad geographic area spanning 14 states, students have had opportunity to engage in a variety of learning experiences.

Fieldwork Experiences

All students are required to complete one 12 week level II fieldwork with an emphasis on physical dysfunction and one 12 week fieldwork with an emphasis on psychosocial dysfunction. Students may also choose to complete an elective fieldwork with an emphasis of their choosing. Past elective choices include pediatric, hand therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, and administration.

Consistent with accreditation standards, UND offers Level I and Level II fieldwork experiences.

Level I Fieldwork

The goal of Level I fieldwork is to introduce students to the fieldwork experience, and to develop a basic comfort level with and understanding of the needs of clients. Experiences are designed to enrich academic coursework through directed observation and supervised participation in the occupational therapy intervention process. Block assignments of one week periods provide students’ exposure to pediatric and adult populations within education, medical, psychosocial and physical rehabilitative settings. Students are usually placed in settings that are located within an 8 hour drive from either the Grand Forks, ND or Casper, Wyoming campus. These learning opportunities are typically regarded by students as the highlight of their student experience and they return to campus with a new enthusiasm for learning!

Level II Fieldwork

The goal of level II fieldwork is to develop competent, entry-level generalist occupational therapists and includes a more in-depth experience for students as they deliver occupational therapy services to clients in a 12 week time period. The focus of the learning includes the delivery of client-centered and occupation-based treatment which is based on research evidence as well as administration and management of occupational therapy services. Most level II students are supervised following a 1:1 supervision model but occasionally a group model is followed where one supervisor is responsible for two or more students. Although most fieldwork occurs in role established placements, (where students are directly supervised by an OTR and learn from following the example modeled by the therapist) role-exploring and role-emerging placements are also being developed. In role-exploring and role emerging placements, students are supervised by an on-site non-occupational therapist, but an off-site therapist acts as a supporter, mentor and guide for processing the potential role of occupational therapy in the setting.

Being a Fieldwork Educator

To meet accreditation standards, the off-site supervisor must be a registered occupational therapist with at least 3 years of professional experience and provide supervision a minimum of 8 hours per week. Students at these sites work collaboratively with the designated on-site supervisor and their designated off-site supervisor to create and establish the occupational therapy role within the setting. We are always interested in developing more fieldwork sites and particularly those where the role of the occupational therapists is extended to non-traditional practice settings.

In addition to a comprehensive fieldwork manual for fieldwork educators, other resources to support fieldwork educators in their teaching role are provided in advance of the students learning experience and throughout the course of the level II student experience. Resources are provided to assist fieldwork sites in the development of learning objectives and assignments, a weekly evaluation process, learning contracts for extenuating circumstances as well as coaching and mentoring regarding individual student learning challenges.

Becoming a Fieldwork Site

If you are practicing therapist with at least one year of experience we are interested in hearing from you and exploring the potential for student fieldwork placement at your site.

Level I Fieldwork Site

The UND Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will review the objectives and purpose of Level I fieldwork with the representative from the facility, and will provide examples of learning opportunities that will meet Level I fieldwork objectives. The representative from the facility will provide feedback to the UND Academic Fieldwork Coordinator regarding their ability to provide learning experiences consistent with the UND curriculum. After a Level I experience, students will complete a Student Description of Level I Fieldwork form. Students will also provide verbal evaluation of the fieldwork site on the first day of class following fieldwork. Instructor of the course will compare the feedback from the students with the objectives of the course and the purpose of Level I fieldwork. Prior to contacting facilities regarding arranging a fieldwork experience at the facility, the academic fieldwork coordinator will view the Student Description of Level I Fieldwork forms to ensure that learning experiences consistent with the curriculum design are available.

Level II Fieldwork Site

Each facility offering Level II learning experiences will complete the UND Fieldwork Facility Evaluation form to determine whether they are able to offer learning experiences consistent with the UND curriculum design. The review, which includes review of fieldwork program and objectives, is completed by the UND Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, who then routes the form back to the facility indicating approval or asking for further clarification or information. Final evaluation results will be sent to the facility and a copy placed in the fieldwork office. This process might also be supplemented through telephone or e-mail exchange, and may involve curriculum updates, student evaluations of the fieldwork site and fieldwork visits.

Facilities who are not approved as fieldwork sites will be provided specific rationale as to the decision made, and will be provided with suggestions should they wish to pursue approval as a fieldwork site in the future. Conversely, if a fieldwork facility chooses to withdraw from offering fieldwork experiences to UND students, they are also expected to notify the UND Academic Fieldwork Coordinator of this decision and the reasoning behind it. The information concerning that facility is then identified as “inactive” within the UND fieldwork binders.

Data will be gathered in the areas of evaluation and assessment, primary treatment conditions, interventions, client participation, student resources for learning, supervisory models and consistency with the UND occupational therapy program objectives for fieldwork. Information collected will be used to:

  1. Assist student in the fieldwork selection process.
  2. Inform fieldwork facilities of curriculum content, expectations and learning experiences currently offered in the UND Occupational Therapy Program curriculum.
  3. Determine whether fieldwork facilities are offering learning experiences compatible with those presented in the UND Occupational Therapy Program curriculum.
  4. Provide a method of objectively evaluating existing fieldwork facilities.
  5. Provide an instrument to guide faculty in selecting new fieldwork facilities in an objective manner.