Spring 2021

Gator OT Fieldwork Newsletter


In This Issue

• UF OT Fieldwork Educator Workshop Series

• Fieldwork Educator/Student RelationshipTips

• Fieldwork Educators and Implicit Bias

• Ask the FWC

• Upcoming Events


"Supervision is an opportunity to bring someone back to their own mind, to show them how good they can be.”

-Nancy Kline

UF OT Fieldwork Educator Workshop Series


Educating and Shaping the Next Generation of OTs: How to Bridge the Communication Gap between Educators and their OT Students

The University of Florida’s Occupational Therapy Department presented the Fieldwork Educator Workshop Series, Educating and Shaping the Next Generation of OTs: How to Bridge the Communication Gap between Fieldwork Educators and their OT Students, in January and February 2021. This three part series examined topics such as emotional competence and learning styles, feedback strategies, and the creation of a psychological safe space to discuss difficult topics. Each week, speakers provided evidence based research and practice implications to facilitate fieldwork educators’ continuing competence, followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A with a diverse panel of fieldwork educators. Over 150 participants attended virtually, representing multiple clinical practice settings and geographic locations across 12 states. Becky Piazza, OTD, MS, OTR/L, BCPR presented on Emotional Competence and Learning Styles; Edwin Myers, OTD, OTR/L, AP, RA(FL)  presented on The Relationship of the Intentional Relationship Model to OT Fieldwork; Heidi Horwitz, OTD, MEd, OTR/L presented on Strategies for Student Feedback; Ms. Armenthis Lester, BSOT, MAMC presented on Implicit Bias and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Fieldwork Setting; and Ms. Zari Cooper, MOT, OTR/L, CLT presented on DEI resources. Ms. Sherry-Lynne Bredy, MPH, OTR/L moderated the panel discussion. The committee of Dr. Horwitz, Dr. Piazza, Ms. Bredy, and Ms. Cooper created this workshop to enhance educational opportunities for fieldwork educators and to provide a platform for fieldwork educators to meet and share their experiences.

View the list of Fieldwork Educator Resources from this workshop


Tips for Improving the Quality of the Fieldwork Educator/Student Relationship

The Intentional Relationship Model Modes can be applied to the Fieldwork Educator/Student Relationship.

Advocating Mode

• Create a fieldwork plan before your student begins

• Provide a detailed orientation to allow the student to understand the "big picture"

• Encourage all staff to be warm, welcoming and introduce themselves

• Be your student's advocate. Act as a mediator between the student and other staff members if difficult situations arise.

Emphasizing Mode

• Take the time at the beginning of the fieldwork to ask questions and get to know your student

• Learn "mindful empathy" - understanding your student's emotions, needs and motives while being objective at the same time.

• Try not to assume meaning if the student exhibits unusual or unwanted behaviors. Students are stressed and there may be other meanings behind their behavior.

• Offer a safe space and reflective listening. A student may need time to come up with a solution.

(Myers, E. (2014). Fieldwork quality of life: Addressing the occupational therapy level II fieldwork student/supervisor relationship [Doctoral Dissertation] Boston University.  https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2018.020204)

Fieldwork Educators and Implicit Bias

As Fieldwork Educators, it is important to become more aware of one's own hidden biases that could affect the fieldwork educator/fieldwork student relationship.Several studies show a link between hidden biases and a person's actions. As occupational therapists, we are bound by the principles of nonmaleficence (refraining from actions that cause harm) and justice (promoting equity, inclusion and objectivity) during all occupational therapy services including the supervision of students. 

Strategies for recognizing our own hidden biases:

1) Take an Implicit Association Test (see link under resources) - the physical action of taking the test can make one more conscious of their bias.

2) Monitor and modify your behavior - is there something about your communication or body language that indicates you may be biased? For example, do you cross the street if you see someone of color walking near you?

3) Practice Mindfulness Meditation- Increasing one's state of awareness can lead initially to a decrease in bias behaviors and ultimately may result in an increase in the awareness of all of one's behaviors, leading to overall decreased implicit bias.

4) Educate yourself about different perspectives in regard to race sensitivity. Some people purposely undervalue a culture or race because of prejudice. Others unintentionally devalue a culture because of infrequent interaction with other cultures. Some people are "color blind": and make no distinctions in color or race and thus ignore cultural strengths and encourage assimilation. Most people are exposed to various cultures and want to improve connection but few accept and respect cultural differences initiating growth in knowledge and promoting cultural competency in others.

Lueke, A., & Gibson, B. (2016). Brief mindfulness meditation reduces discrimination. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 3(1), 34.

Ruhl , C. (2020, July 01). Implicit or unconscious bias. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/implicit-bias.html

Teaching Tolerance (n.d.). Test Yourself for Hidden Bias. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.tolerance.org/professional-development/test-yourself-for-hidden-bias


Fieldwork Educator Resources


Enhancing Student Confidence

Use this video and questions to jump start a conversation about communication and self-confidence on fieldwork:

Student Confidence in the Clinic  (Link provided with permission. If you would like to use this video or other information from the Emotional Intelligence Curriculum, please request permission from Dr. Jasmin Thomas, Jasmin.Thomas@downstate.edu)

Learning About Your Own Hidden Bias

Implicit Association Test - Project Implicit Bias

Video: Bias In Healthcare

Implicit Bias Module Series: Kirwin Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (Link provided with permission from the Kirwin Institute)

Help Needed:

Are you or do you know a Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) occupational therapist? Are you interested in mentoring or supervising OT students? The UF Fieldwork Program and the UF Chapter of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) are seeking:

• BIPOC Fieldwork Educators

• Mentors for BIPOC Occupational Therapy Students

Please email Heidi at hhorwitz@phhp.ufl.edu, if interested.


Ask the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFWC)

Dear AFWC:

One of my students had an interaction with a patient where the patient used a racial slur. I told the student to just ignore the patient because he is elderly and doesn't know any better. The student appeared upset with my response. How could I have handled this differently? These types of interactions have always made me uncomfortable, but I deal with them by ignoring them.

- Concerned OT

Dear Concerned OT:

Remaining quiet is not the answer when we observe any type of racial discrimination. Your student was upset because they did not feel heard when they expressed their complaint regarding the patient. The first step would be creating a psychological safe space for the student to speak to you about these issues. A psychological safe space is one that allows your student to speak freely without fearing criticism or repercussions.

During your talk, you could discuss the reasons behind the patient's behavior. Does this patient have impaired cognition that makes them unaware they are using discriminatory language? Or is this a patient with a long history of bigotry? Whichever the reason, it should be clearly identified that this is unacceptable behavior. Discuss with your student and your therapy team potential responses to patients that exhibit this type of behavior. Your team could create a shared statement such as, "Our clinic/hospital does not tolerate inappropriate language, specifically language that will be offensive to another culture. Please keep your views or verbal expression of the matter to yourself." Having a planned response allows the person to respond calmly and firmly without being defensive.

Complete a self-assessment to examine your underlying bias. What is making you uncomfortable? Begin with taking some implicit bias tests to better evaluate your unconscious thoughts and address them. This will help you become a good role model and promote cultural competency to others.


To submit your question, email hhorwitz@phhp.ufl.edu with "Ask the AFWC" in the subject line.

Kennell, B., Erler, K., & Ladin, K. (2018). Caring for the bigoted client. OT Practice, 23(11), 10-12.

Many thanks to Armenthis Lester, BSOT, MAMC,

Sherry-Lynne Bredy, MPH, OTR/L

and Zari Cooper, MOT, OTR/L, CLT

for their contributions to my knowledge about this subject

and this newsletter's content.


Upcoming Events



The AOTA Conference is being held virtually with live and

on-demand sessions in April 2021


University of Florida Alumni Reception 

April 7, 2021 7:00 - 8:30 pm EST

(You do not need to be registered for

AOTA INSPIRE to attend this event)


Please join us for these UF Occupational Therapy Department Presentations at AOTA INSPIRE 2021