Best practice model for a community-based level II fieldwork program
Phelps, Georgina Kaye
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Social and political movements over the past few decades have contributed to the need for more occupational therapy (OT) services in the community for mental health, wellness, recovery from substance use disorder, and homelessness. There has been a sharp increase in the number of OT educational programs since the 1970s, as well as a paradigm shift from a medical model to a socio-political or community service model that is more in keeping with the original principles of OT. Yet only 2% of occupational therapists currently work in the community. All of these factors have contributed to a severe shortage of fieldwork (FW) sites, especially in the community. To address the need for more FW sites to train students for practice in the community, a best practice model for community-based Level II FW was created. The goals of the Level II FW program are to support the development of a student’s unique professional identity and to prepare students for entry-level practice. Because there will be limited supervision by a fieldwork educator (FWEd) on-site, the model is based on the principles of Adult Learning Theory including self-directed learning (SDL), collaborative learning, and experiential learning with self-reflection. The components of the program include an online, interactive wiki-based website that will be accessible to the FWEd and students both on- and off-site. The website will include manuals for both the students and FWEd as well as training modules, site-specific objectives, and student self-assessments. Reflective sessions and journals will also be included in the FW experience. A student’s readiness for SDL will be determined prior to the beginning of FW by using the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale for Nursing Education. Goal Attainment Scaling will be used to encourage SDL and to provide a structured progression of goal competency attainment for entry-level practice. Students will also complete a pre- and post-fieldwork survey. Dissemination of this model to administrators of potential FW sites will hopefully increase the number of FW programs that can offer students an experience focused not only on the health and well-being of individuals, but of communities and populations.