Log in
Log in

Occupational Therapist Student Fieldwork

Occupational therapist (OT) student fieldwork is a crucial component of their education, providing hands-on, real-world experiences to apply theoretical knowledge and develop clinical skills. It is divided into Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1 involves introductory, shorter placements for observation and basic interaction.

Level 2 consists of more extensive and intensive experiences, requiring students to work with greater independence and responsibility.

Throughout fieldwork, students engage in various settings, under supervision, to integrate classroom learning, refine professional skills, and prepare for the challenges of entry-level occupational therapy practice.

The specifics of fieldwork can vary based on program requirements and the unique focus of each placement.

Level 1 Fieldwork

"The goal of Level I fieldwork is to introduce students to fieldwork, apply knowledge to practice, and develop understanding of the needs of clients." (ACOTE, 2023, p.38)

Level 1 fieldwork for OT students typically involves introductory experiences where they observe, learn, and apply foundational skills under the supervision of experienced Occupational Therapists

The specific details of Level 1 fieldwork experiences for OT students can vary based on the program, the educational institution, and the specific goals of the fieldwork placement. While there are common elements, such as observation, basic client interaction, and integration of theoretical knowledge into practice, the exact nature of the experiences can differ.

Some factors that may contribute to variations in Level 1 fieldwork experiences include:

1) Program Requirements

    Different OT programs may have unique requirements for Level 1 fieldwork, including the number of hours,

    types of settings, and specific skills or competencies to be addressed.

2) Clinical Settings

     Fieldwork experiences can take place in various settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools,

     community clinics, and more. The specific setting can influence the focus of the fieldwork experience.

3) Supervision

     The level of supervision provided by licensed occupational therapists can vary. Some Level 1 fieldwork 

     experiences involve constant supervision, while others may allow for more independent participation under


4) Duration

     The length of Level 1 fieldwork experiences can vary. Some programs may have shorter, more focused

     placements, while others may opt for longer durations.

5) Objectives

     Programs may have specific objectives or competencies that they aim to address during Level 1 fieldwork,

     tailored to the curriculum and learning outcomes of the particular OT program.

It's essential for OT students to consult their program's curriculum and guidelines to understand the specific expectations and requirements for Level 1 fieldwork. Additionally, communication with fieldwork educators and supervisors can provide clarity on the goals and structure of the fieldwork experience.

Level I fieldwork may be met through one or more of the following instructional methods:

• Virtual environments*

• Simulated environments*

• Standardized patients*

• Faculty practice*

• Faculty-led site visits*

• Supervision by a fieldwork educator in a practice environment

Level 2 Fieldwork

"The goal of Level II fieldwork is to develop competent, entry-level, generalist occupational therapists. Level II fieldwork must be integral to the program’s curriculum design and must include an in-depth experience in delivering occupational therapy services to clients, focusing on the application of purposeful and meaningful occupation and research, administration, and management of occupational therapy services. It is recommended that the student be exposed to a variety of clients across the lifespan and to a variety of settings."

(ACOTE, 2023, p.39)

Level 2 fieldwork for OT students is a more extensive and in-depth experience, generally involving two full-time placements over 24 weeks. OT students are expected to take on a greater level of independence, manage complex cases, and demonstrate advanced clinical skills.

While there are common elements in Level 2 fieldwork experiences for OT students, there can be significant variations based on several factors. These factors include the OT program, the educational institution, the specific goals of the fieldwork placement, and the diverse roles within occupational therapy.

Some factors that may contribute to variations in Level 2 fieldwork experiences include:

1) Settings

     Level 2 fieldwork can take place in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, community-based       organizations, mental health facilities, and more. The chosen setting can significantly impact the nature of the


2) Populations Served

     OT students might have the opportunity to work with different populations, such as pediatric, adult, geriatric,

     or individuals with specific conditions or diagnoses. The focus of the fieldwork experience can vary based on

     the population served.

3) Duration

     The length of Level 2 fieldwork experiences varies among programs. Some programs may have longer, more

     extended placements, while others may opt for shorter, more intensive experiences.

     Generally, Level 2 OT Fieldwork consists of two separate placements totaling 24 weeks of full time fieldwork.

4) Supervision and Independence

    "Level II fieldwork supervision is direct and then decreases to less direct supervision as appropriate for 

     the setting, the severity of the client’s condition, and the ability of the student to support progression toward

     entry-level competence." (ACOTE, 2023, p. 41)

5) Goals and Competencies

     Each OT program may have specific goals and competencies that they aim to address during Level 2

     fieldwork. These goals are often aligned with the program's curriculum and the desired outcomes for students

     as they transition to entry-level practice.

Given these variations, it's crucial for OT students to consult their program's guidelines, communicate with their fieldwork educators and supervisors, and be aware of the specific expectations for Level 2 fieldwork. This individualized and diverse approach allows students to gain a broad range of experiences and prepares them for the complexities of their future roles as occupational therapists.

Follow the links below for information regarding the NBCOT Exam and Licensing for OT students.


* See ACOTE Standards 2023 Glossary


Fieldwork Management webpage from from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTEĀ®)

ACOTE Standards 2023 from Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTEĀ®)

New England Occupational Therapy Education Council (NEOTEC)

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software