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Fieldwork: Clinical Education

Practicum I & II – OTH 5812 & OTH 5816
Level I Fieldwork Experience

In addition to course work, the student is required to complete a series of related practicum experiences. These practicum experiences provide the student with an opportunity to translate theory into practice and to observe or define the roles of occupational therapy in various clinical settings. Practicum experiences are woven throughout the Fall and Spring semesters and carry specific academic and clinical requirements.

It is the student’s responsibility to provide proof of having met all required health standards and training prior to initiating any fieldwork experience (as specified on p. 15) and to have provided proof of HIPAA training.) Students are also required to abide by all applicable facility policies and procedures.

The practicum course sequence is graded by the faculty in the areas of clinical performance, judgment, and attitude based on input from teaching assistants, clinical supervisors, and course instructors as appropriate. Assignments and classroom participation may also be included in the grade.

Students will be expected to perform a self-evaluation of clinical skills prior to each practicum experience. It is the responsibility of the student to identify specific barriers to their learning in the clinical setting such as the impact of physical limitations, learning style, and specific stressors which might impair performance, judgment or attitude in the clinical setting.

Internships – OTH 5848 & OTH 5849, OTH 6827
Level II Fieldwork Experience

Occupational therapy students complete their preparation for professional service by spending the required equivalent of 12 weeks full-time in two significantly different clinical settings. The normal progression is for the student to complete two concurrent 3-month internships occurring in May or June and then in August or September. Students are required to select one internship primarily oriented towards treatment of adult physical dysfunction. Fieldwork must be completed on at least a half-time basis and must be concluded within one year of completion of OT coursework.

The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFC) will initially place students approximately six months prior to the student’s start date. Assignments are based on availability, student preferences, type of experience offered, and when indicated, the student’s needs. After fieldwork assignments are confirmed, the student may not request changes. Assignments will generally only be changed in the case of student failure or at the request of the fieldwork site.

Site assignment is carried out by a lottery early in the fall of the junior year. Students may choose from sites located throughout the United Sates that have returned reservation forms indicating slots available for UF OT students. Sites that are eligible to take students must ensure that therapy is supervised by a certified and/or licensed occupational therapist and that education of students is pragmatically or philosophically supported by the administration of the facility. Students are reminded that the Fieldwork Policies regarding student contact with fieldwork sites, explained during orientation, are in effect. Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation, housing and financing for their fieldwork experiences. Special arrangements are available through some facilities, as noted in fieldwork files, but these arrangements are subject to change. Fieldwork may take place outside the US for the second internship rotation, but must be supervised by a graduate of a WFOT approved OT program with a minimum of one year of clinical experience.

Internships are graded by the Department on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. AOTA’s Fieldwork Performance Evaluation for the Occupational Therapist (FWPE) form is used, and the minimum passing score of 122 points must be attained for satisfactory performance. In addition, all “Fundamentals of Practice” items must be passed to achieve a satisfactory grade.

Specialty Internship (OTH 6827)

This six-week rotation is offered as an elective for three credits after the successful completion of at least one internship and is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Assignments are made based on a second lottery held after the initial placement lottery for the required internships is completed. Objectives are generally determined collaboratively by the student and the clinical supervisor, and are submitted to the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator prior to the start of the experience. The specialty fieldwork is an opportunity for students to gain experience in an area of particular interest, such as hands, spinal cord injury, pediatrics, work hardening, etc. Grades are determined by the Department. Satisfactory performance may be determined by a letter from the clinical supervisor stating how well the objectives of the experience were met, or by use of the Fieldwork Performance Evaluation (FWPE) form along with the supervisor’s recommendations. If the FWPE is used, the normal grading scale will not apply except for the “Fundamental of Practice” items, which must be passed.

Internship Midterm Evaluation

A midterm evaluation of the student’s progress in an internship is provided by the Fieldwork Supervisor to the student in writing and verbally. Strengths and weakness are identified and suggestions are made so that the student will reach the goal of “entry level practitioner” by the end of the internship. The student and/or the Fieldwork Supervisor will report unsatisfactory student progress in the internship midterm evaluation immediately to the UF Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. Problem areas will be identified, suggestions for improved performance will be outlined, and alternative solutions will be explored towards the goal of improved performance during the second half of the internship.

Student Responsibilities

Students are responsible for independently arranging for and financing their housing and transportation for internships. Changes in marital status, financial considerations, or changed housing arrangements are not considered adequate grounds for changing fieldwork assignment. In rare instances, housing or other forms of support are provided by the center and these benefits are subject to change at any time. Placement sites are located in Florida and other states with internship sites in Gainesville are extremely limited. Thus, students should anticipate that at least one site will be outside the state of Florida

Prior to departing to fieldwork sites, it is necessary that each student shall have:

  1. Satisfactorily completed all required courses in the occupational therapy curriculum.
  2. Enrolled in a liability insurance program under the blanket student policy.
  3. Have personal or family medical insurance, which will provide coverage in the geographic areas to which the student will be going. Clinical internship sites are not responsible for health care needs that arise during the internship experience.
  4. Proof of having received a physical examination, CPR Certification, and negative TB test or chest X-ray within one year. A record of all immunizations is also required. Students are expected to comply with other requirements that may be asked in certain settings, such as background screening. Some internship sites require testing for use of illicit drugs and if the testing is positive for drug use, the student will be unable to continue in that placement. Students are advised that any evidence of use of illegal drugs will jeopardize their ability in the future to obtain state license to practice occupational therapy. Other requests may be asked in certain settings.
  5. Copy of HIPAA course completion certificate.
  6. Become knowledgeable of the fieldwork site’s requirements for interns.

Students are responsible for knowing and following all policies and procedures pertinent to them at fieldwork sites.

Summary of Fieldwork Policies

Introduction

Fieldwork sites are at a premium and are a valuable resource of the OT Department. The Department has established fieldwork policies (i.e. Appeals, Lottery) designed to serve the largest good in the fairest possible manner. Attempts are made to accommodate individual student’s needs and preferences as much as possible, however this is done in the context of attempting to equally meet the needs of other students and fieldwork sites. Students are reminded that they have been informed, since admission, that they are responsible for completing a minimum of six (6) months of internship. Students have been informed that they are responsible for the financial burden of this part of their training, that this training may take place anywhere in the United States and that the student is responsible for planning and preparing for this expensive part of their education. Students will not be placed in fieldwork outside of the lottery or appeal processes.

Lottery

In order to fairly distribute fieldwork sites among the students an annual lottery will be held. Slots will be assigned through random computer-generated assignment according to student preferences and slot availability. There will be several opportunities to switch sites before final assignments are confirmed. However, students may not switch sites once they have been confirmed.

Appeals

The appeal process is designed to meet the occasional need of students for whom the lottery process would prove disruptive to their family responsibilities and would result in the student’s probable discontinuation of their schooling. Petitions for appeals are not to be made lightly. Students should consider the gravity of their appeal and submit an appeal only if they feel they could not continue in the program and complete their training if the appeal were denied. Appeals for special consideration in placement are based on demonstrated need for one of the following reasons: Dependant care, extreme personal issues, and students with disabilities who have identified themselves to University Student Services. Appeals cannot be made for financial reasons. Appeals found to be made on false claims will be overturned and denied, and may be removed from the program for this highly unethical behavior. Students who falsify appeal claims will be placed in any remaining site at the conclusion of the lottery process. Students will be informed of the dates of the Appeal process, generally during the second semester of the first year of the program. Appeal decisions are made subject to the availability of fieldwork sites. All decisions of the committee will be final.

Contact with Sites

All prospective and contracted fieldwork sites are considered a resource of the OT Department not the individual student. Therefore students shall not contact fieldwork sites, currently or prospectively contracted with the university with the intent to establish personal fieldwork placement.

Students who discover or generate new fieldwork sites must recognize that all sites used by the OT Department become part of the Department’s pool of Practicum/Internship sites, and as such, are open to all students through the lottery. If a student becomes aware of the possibility of a new Practicum/Internship site they are to inform the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator who will make the appropriate contacts and contracts with the site as the designated representative of the OT Department. If contracts with the University are arranged this site will be available to all students through the lottery. No exceptions to this policy will be made.

Withdrawals

Leaving an internship site without notifying and receiving a written or direct telephone response from the Clinical Fieldwork Supervisor and the Department is viewed as a serious infraction of professional ethics and is considered abandonment of one’s professional responsibilities to the patients and facility. The student will receive a failing grade in the internship and will not have the option to petition to re-enter the program.