Experiential Learning to Advance Student Readiness for Level II Fieldwork

Wendy P. Goldbach, Tiffany C. Stella
2017 Journal of Occupational Therapy Education  
Occupational therapy (OT) students question their readiness for Level II fieldwork prior to their first placement. Many request more hands-on experiences with clients during their coursework, in preparation for the practice setting. As part of a two year Master of Occupational Therapy program, a fourth semester course was designed to address readiness for fieldwork and engage students in the OT process with actual volunteer clients. This course utilized the primary components of a clinical
more » ... of a clinical setting: client interaction, evaluation, intervention and outcomes review, clinical decision making, documentation, and communication, to promote student proficiencies as clinicians in preparation for fieldwork experiences. Weekly student reflections, survey data, and exit interviews identified that the experience was a highly valuable process that aided participants in their readiness to practice as student clinicians. This paper will describe the experiential learning course design, the learning methods used and the outcomes as identified by student perceptions of the impact on their learning and readiness for fieldwork. ABSTRACT Occupational therapy (OT) students question their readiness for Level II fieldwork prior to their first placement. Many request more hands-on experiences with clients during their coursework, in preparation for the practice setting. As part of a two year Master of Occupational Therapy program, a fourth semester course was designed to address readiness for fieldwork and engage students in the OT process with actual volunteer clients. This course utilized the primary components of a clinical setting: client interaction, evaluation, intervention and outcomes review, clinical decision making, documentation, and communication, to promote student proficiencies as clinicians in preparation for fieldwork experiences. Weekly student reflections, survey data, and exit interviews identified that the experience was a highly valuable process that aided participants in their readiness to practice as student clinicians. This paper will describe the experiential learning course design, the learning methods used and the outcomes as identified by student perceptions of the impact on their learning and readiness for fieldwork. BACKGROUND Occupational therapy students in the United States must successfully complete the required didactic coursework followed by a minimum of 24 weeks of Level II fieldwork experience at full time equivalence to become a practicing occupational therapist (Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education [ACOTE], 2012). Passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam enables the candidate to become eligible for licensure within their state or states of choice, and demonstrates preparedness as an entry level practitioner. Adequate academic preparation for fieldwork is essential for the student to meet the requirements of fieldwork education and become a competent entry level practitioner. Fieldwork experiences are critical in helping the student to build sound communication skills, interdisciplinary behaviors, professional etiquette and work-related psychomotor skills needed for competent patient care and readiness for engagement in work Published by Encompass, 2017 opportunities for practical experience in academic settings were also noted by Williams et al. (2010) , making it challenging for students to develop professional proficiencies. Communication and documentation. Clinical educators expressed frustration with the lack of student preparedness for Level II fieldwork, specifically the lack of oral and written communication skills (Hanson, 2011) . Students required "long hours of education and training to get the student up to speed on documentation, and feeling comfortable with patient evaluations and direct care" (p. 170). It was concluded that academic programs need to provide additional hands-on opportunities for students to become fieldwork ready, according to these clinical educators. Confidence. Hodgetts et al. (2007) determined that students felt incompetent and anxious regarding their clinical preparedness following academic coursework. In addition, these students wanted more opportunity to utilize intervention strategies, as well as methods for applying the knowledge of theory to practice prior to participating in client interaction in the fieldwork setting; they did not feel confident to apply therapeutic skills to the level in which they were expected by clinical instructors.
doi:10.26681/jote.2017.010103 fatcat:j46xowj4j5cavi7x6g7sm4g7ue