Finding a fieldwork placement in your desired location and setting can be a challenging task for a fieldwork coordinator. In most cases, you’re better off doing it on your own.
Start doing your OT fieldwork placement by making a plan, deciding on a setting and location, understanding what opportunities are already available, and networking with others.
Let’s discuss this in greater detail, but first let’s define the terms.
Plan ahead by deciding on the setting (Pediatric, hand therapy, rehab, acute care, skilled nursing, etc) and where you want to work.
Most fieldwork coordinators will have a list of placement locations. Research these existing locations and try to talk with a student who had a fieldwork assignment there in the past.
Try to find a fieldwork position early, because you may be competing with other students for the same position.
Don’t rely on your fieldwork coordinator
Your fieldwork coordinator will have a list of all the facilities that have contracted with your school in the past.
If you decide to work at one of these locations, ask what fieldwork educators failed students. Some fieldwork educators won’t provide this information.
This is also why I wouldn’t fully rely on your fieldwork coordinator. The primary job of this position is to find placement, and this can be hard work. It is also not always in their interest to tell you if a student failed with a fieldwork educator in the past and is why you should do all you can to find out everything about your fieldwork educator before beginning your field work.
Another reason you might find your own fieldwork placement is to guarantee that you get the position you want. Sometimes your fieldwork coordinator will ask for your preference but neglect to contact the facility in time for your placement.
This is why it’s always best to find your own placement, or put pressure on your coordinator, so you’re not left without a position.
Contact facilities that take fieldwork students
The best way to find a fieldwork position is by finding facilities that work with students on a regular basis. If you want to work in a hospital or rehab, call and ask if they normally take OT students for level 2 fieldwork.
Ask how they go about taking students, and what you can do to help. If they’ve never taken a student, ask if you can meet with them or have your fieldwork educator contact them about a future assignment.
Contact previous fieldwork Students
After deciding on a fieldwork setting or location, ask your fieldwork coordinator if you can contact the last student who was assigned there.
If you’re unable to contact the student, ask if there have been any fieldwork educators in the past who have a history of failing students. You always want a fieldwork educator with a high pass rate.
I’ve met many fieldwork educators who have failed students without valid reasons. You don’t want someone to fail you just because they didn’t like you.
Network with others
My last tip is to network, so you find out about other student’s experiences with fieldwork. Network with people in the OT class that just graduated or other OT students that might be doing fieldwork at a different school.
Ask about their experience and if their facility is accepting students. Join facebook groups and meet people on instagram to talk with OTs who worked in your desired setting.
Email a friend who graduated from OT school and ask about their experience. The more you network, the more opportunities you might find for future placement.
Put forth the extra effort
Putting a little extra effort in your fieldwork placement can go a long way. If you want to do your fieldwork out of state, call ahead and take time off to visit, so you know it’s a good fit.
If you’re able to meet with your fieldwork educator, make sure you give them a lasting first impression.
Putting in effort won’t guarantee a perfect placement, but planning ahead and spending time researching your fieldwork placement will help you feel more confident about your fieldwork assignment.
As you know, setting up your fieldwork placement isn’t easy, but planning ahead and making the necessary contacts can make things easier. Some of these tips won’t work for you, but hopefully they will help you get started.
I hope this was helpful. To learn what do wear to your fieldwork assignment, read my other post here.
David is the lead editor of OT Focus. He has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2013. He specializes in acute care, hand therapy, and ergonomics.