Fieldwork Frequently Asked Questions

Who does a fieldwork educator talk to about making arrangements to take a student?

Please contact Sara Clark at sara.clark@wmich.edu or Holly Grieves at holly.grieves@wmich.edu to start begin planning to accept a level II fieldwork student.

How many hours are required for level I and level II fieldwork?

Our first level I fieldwork requires students participate in a minimum of 45 hours of fieldwork. Our second level I fieldwork requires students participate in a minimum of 90 hours of fieldwork.

Level II fieldwork experiences are full-time as defined by the clinical site, for 12 weeks, in accordance with Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy standards.

When do students complete level I fieldwork during WMU’s academic program? 

For WMU’s professional master’s degree program, students complete their first level I fieldwork in their third semester and second level I fieldwork in their fifth semester. Please see an example of our typical OT program progression.

When do students complete level II fieldwork during WMU’s academic program?

At Western Michigan University, Level II fieldwork is completed at the end of the academic program. Please see our sample academic curriculum.

What are the requirements for fieldwork?

Students are required to submit evidence of a physical assessment, immunizations record, criminal background check, drug screen, TB test, flu shot, HIPAA training and CPR certification and other site-specific documents as requested.

Where can a student perform level II fieldwork? 

There are a variety of practice settings in which students can perform level II fieldwork including but not limited acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, outpatient pediatric rehabilitation, mental health facilities, school systems, outpatient adult rehabilitation, home health care and nontraditional settings. WMU’s OT program meets the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education requirement that either one level I or level II fieldwork experience has “its focus psychological or social factors that influence engagement in occupation”. 

What is WMU’s attendance policy for fieldwork?

The Level II Fieldwork site and the academic program together decide time off during fieldwork. The student is responsible to meet the time requirements of the placement. Please see the WMU fieldwork attendance policy.

When a student completes a placement in a school system, WMU has a specific school system tracking form to track the days off and make-up projects and experiences to account for those days.

Does the fieldwork educator need to be on-site all of the time and/or every day?

The new ACOTE Standard C.1.16 states that "supervision should be direct, then decrease to less direct supervision as is appropriate for the setting, the severity of client's condition, and the ability of the students." Supervision should also be consistent with state licensure regulations, reimbursement guidelines such as Medicare and Medicaid, and facility policy. Unless specified by reimbursement guidelines or other regulatory requirements, supervision need not always be "line of sight." Telephones, mobile phones, or other communications technologies may supplement on-site supervision.

Remember that other professionals can participate in student supervision, but the primary supervisor must be an OT practitioner. The ACOTE Standards permit Level II Fieldwork to be in a setting where there is no occupational therapist employed by the facility. In such cases, the program must document that there is a plan for the provision of supervision by an OTR.

On-site supervision must be provided in accordance with the plan and state credentialing requirements, and the student must receive a minimum of eight hours of occupational therapy supervision per week, including direct observation of client interaction. Additionally, the OT FWEd must be readily available for communication and consultation during work hours.

Does the fieldwork educator need to be on site all the time and/or every day with their level II fieldwork student? 

The ACOTE Standard C.1.16 states that "supervision should be direct, then decrease to less direct supervision as is appropriate for the setting, the severity of client's condition, and the ability of the students." Supervision should also be consistent with state licensure regulations, reimbursement guidelines such as Medicare and Medicaid, and facility policy. Unless specified by reimbursement guidelines or other regulatory requirements, supervision need not always be "line of sight." Telephones, mobile phones, or other communications technologies may supplement on-site supervision.

Remember that other professionals can participate in student supervision, but the primary supervisor must be an OT practitioner. The ACOTE Standards permit Level II Fieldwork to be in a setting where there is no occupational therapist employed by the facility. In such cases, the program must document that there is a plan for the provision of supervision by an OTR.

On-site supervision must be provided in accordance with the plan and state credentialing requirements, and the student must receive a minimum of eight hours of occupational therapy supervision per week, including direct observation of client interaction. Additionally, the OT fieldwork educator must be readily available for communication and consultation during work hours.

Please explore the following resources for more information on student supervision guidelines:

What happens if the fieldwork educator or student becomes ill or if the fieldwork educator goes on vacation during part of the fieldwork experience?

These situations should be discussed with the student's academic fieldwork coordinator. Any time that the fieldwork educator is away, another person must be designated as the responsible party and contact person to whom the student can go for guidance. Any state licensure regulations and reimbursement guidelines such as Medicare or Medicaid must be followed.

During what time of year does WMU place students for Level II Fieldwork? 

At WMU, we admit students to our Kalamazoo campus twice a year (January and September) and to our Grand Rapids campus once annually (September). Therefore, students are placed for Level II Fieldwork experiences year round.

We follow the AOTA recommended fieldwork dates:

 2015

  • Jan. 5 to March 27
  • March 30 to June 19
  • June 29 to Sept. 18
  • Sept. 28 to Dec. 18

2016

  • Jan. 4 to March 25
  • March 28 to June 17
  • June 27 to Sept. 16
  • Sept 19 to Dec. 9

Can a fieldwork educator earn continuing education credit for taking a level II fieldwork student?

Yes, a fieldwork educator can earn 12 professional development units for providing 12 weeks of full-time level II fieldwork or one PDU for each full time week of level I fieldwork supervision.

It is possible to provide split supervision with another occupational therapist during level II fieldwork?

Yes, supervision of a level I or level II fieldwork student can be split in numerous ways. The fieldwork sites can collaborate with the Western Michigan University academic fieldwork coordinator to develop the best plan for split supervision.  

How much experience does an OT practitioner need to have in order to supervise a level II fieldwork student?

For level II fieldwork, OT students must be supervised by an occupational therapist who meets state regulations and has a minimum of one year of practice experience, subsequent to initial certification.  

What should you do if you think a student is at risk of failing fieldwork?

The first step is for the fieldwork site to notify the student that he/she is at risk of failing fieldwork. Then the site should let the student know that the site will now notify the academic fieldwork coordinator and encourage the student to call the AFWC as well. One of the roles of the academic fieldwork coordinator is to serve as a mediator between student and fieldwork educator concerns. The academic fieldwork coordinator can provide the site and student with a different perspective, can advise on possible solutions, and can guide all parties through the necessary next steps. 

How many times can a student fail level II fieldwork?

Each academic program establishes their own policy on fieldwork failure and whether or how many times a student will be allowed to repeat fieldwork.

WMU allows students to receive “no credit” grade on one level I or one level II fieldwork experience. If a student receives a “no credit” for a second level I or level II fieldwork experience, they are dismissed from the OT academic program.

Please refer to the WMU remediation and dismissal policy

Does the academic program have to tell the fieldwork setting that the student has a disability?

The academic program is not required to inform the fieldwork site of a student's disability without the student's permission. It is the student's decision whether or not to disclose a disability. The academic fieldwork coordinator will counsel students on the pros and cons of sharing this type of information prior to beginning fieldwork. If a student decides not to disclose, the academic fieldwork coordinator is legally not allowed to share that information with the fieldwork setting, in accordance with FERPA laws.

A fieldwork setting cannot refuse to place a student with a disability unless that student is unable to perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodations. To refuse placement solely on the student's disability is discriminatory and illegal.

Can a student complete one of their level II fieldwork experiences internationally?

To ensure adequate preparation for the NBCOT exam following graduation from our OT program, we required that our students complete both level II fieldwork experiences within the United States. Students may have the option to complete an international fieldwork experience as a third level II experience if available.

Can a student job shadow at a site they would like to complete fieldwork prior to committing to the site for level II fieldwork?

We strongly advise against requesting a job shadow at a potential fieldwork site due to the overwhelming amount of job shadow requests received by many facilities.

What is a passing grade for level II fieldwork?

WMU awards a credit/no credit grade for level II fieldwork. This grade is determined based upon a student’s score on the fieldwork performance evaluation (FWPE) which is provided by your fieldwork educator. Scores are determined as satisfactory or unsatisfactory at halfway or midterm point of fieldwork (six weeks). Final evaluation scores are provided near the end of 12 weeks. This score indicates whether a student has passed or not passed their level II fieldwork experience.