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Fieldwork Educator

Amy Mahle, MHA, COTA/L

May 1, 2018



Why should you be a fieldwork educator?


Many of you may already be fieldwork educators, and others are considering the idea. There are many reasons to become a fieldwork educator. One argument is that as OTs and OTAs, it is our professional responsibility. To become an OT or OTA, we needed to have several fieldwork experiences and people have mentored us. It's a way of giving back to the profession and providing training to the next generation. You may feel very passionate about what you do and you want to be able to pass that along to the next generation.

Also, students bring a lot of enthusiasm to the field, and they are excited to learn about occupational therapy. They bring a sense of renewed optimism to us as practitioners. In addition, they have fresh perspectives, which can make us stop and think. We get so in tune with our daily routines, sometimes we forget why we joined the occupational therapy field in the first place. Seeing the profession through a student’s eyes can energize and motivate us in new ways.

Additionally, students can bring us access to the latest research. When you're practicing in the field, you may not be affiliated with an educational university. You may not have access to the newest journals, but your students do. You can put them to work, ask them to research topics using the library database. These students are learning new things in their classes, as well. It is definitely an opportunity for you to have professional development. You will learn and grow as a fieldwork educator in many ways – probably in more ways than you realize.

We also tell all of our students that their fieldwork could be considered as the longest job interview of their life. They are being watched and observed by the fieldwork educator and by the facility. It is a job interview, of sorts. As a fieldwork educator, you can be on the lookout for students who you may want to hire once they graduate. We also tell students to be on their best behavior and to realize that everything they do is part of being a professional from day one. Additionally, some states offer continuing education credits for being a fieldwork educator. I would encourage you to check with each of your licensing states and see what kind of CEUs you can earn, simply by being a fieldwork educator.

In 2015, Evenson et al. conducted a nationwide survey of OT and OTA fieldwork educators across the United States. As a result of their research, they determined the top five reasons to become a fieldwork educator. According to their interviews, being a fieldwork educator provides:

  1. An opportunity to update practice, keep current, and apply new ideas, research, or theories
  2. Personal satisfaction:  As practitioners, we receive personal satisfaction to be able to help others. Helping a student is different than helping a client, but it also can give you that personal satisfaction.
  3. An opportunity to give back to their university (their alma mater) or to the profession in general
  4. An opportunity to develop and hone clinical reasoning skills
  5. An opportunity to develop supervision skills: As OTAs, we may or may not be supervising other rehab techs, or have other opportunities to supervise. Some of you may be rehab directors and you have that supervisory opportunity as part of your job. To start gaining those skills and learning those skills, try taking a Level one fieldwork student.

amy mahle

Amy Mahle, MHA, COTA/L

Amy Mahle is the founding Program Director and Chair of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program (developing) at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, NC. She has taught OTA students for more than seven years, and her clinical experience includes outpatient rehabilitation and acute care. In addition to her OTA degree, she has a BA in Psychology and earned a Master of Health Administration. She currently serves as the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association President and is co-authoring a textbook for OTAs. Amy is passionate about education and uniting OT practitioners. Prior to her career in OT, she worked in social services and was also a small business owner.

Related Courses

Foundational Skills for Fieldwork Educators: Giving Effective Feedback
Presented by Amy Mahle, MHA, COTA/L


Amy Mahle, MHA, COTA/L
Course: #3344Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Very though and detailed'   Read Reviews
This introductory course explores one of the most powerful tools in teaching: giving effective feedback. This course examines types of feedback as well as the best methods for delivering feedback to fieldwork students.

Empowering OTAs To Be Exceptional Fieldwork Educators
Presented by Amy Mahle, MHA, COTA/L


Amy Mahle, MHA, COTA/L
Course: #3170Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'I can use this for future FW students'   Read Reviews
OTAs may be initially unsure if they are prepared for the responsibility of hosting and training a fieldwork student. Through this course, participants will learn strategies to effectively educate the student, communicate with the student and the college, and evaluate the student’s performance.

Disability Inclusion: What Healthcare Providers Need To Know
Presented by Kathryn Sorensen, OTD, OTR/L, ADAC


Kathryn Sorensen, OTD, OTR/L, ADAC
Course: #5632Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Information was concise , well organized, and easy to follow'   Read Reviews
As a person with a disability and an occupational therapist, I have a unique perspective of living in two worlds. In this course, I will share my personal experience and things I wish healthcare providers knew and understood about living with a disability.

Writing IEP Goals
Presented by Kim Wiggins, OTR/L


Kim Wiggins, OTR/L
Course: #4100Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Clear information'   Read Reviews
Goal writing can be time consuming and difficult to complete for therapists. This webinar will teach you a step by step process how to write functional goals for students in the school setting.

Strategies for Creating a Culturally-Inclusive Mindset
Presented by Esther Clervaud, EdS


Esther Clervaud, EdS
Course: #9478Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Informative and help understand thinking and planning that you use or exhibit that may of developed due to you bias'   Read Reviews
Since America is growing more diverse, cultural awareness has become more vital for day-to-day success. Discover four strategies that will help you develop a mindset that will facilitate a culturally-sensitive environment both personally and professionally, regardless of your work setting.

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