OT Explained

What is Occupational Therapy Fieldwork?

Occupational therapy fieldwork allows you to put what you learned in your coursework and labs into practice. Through fieldwork Level I and Level II experiences, you’ll work under the supervision of an instructor in a variety of settings, including rehab centers, pediatric health facilities and nursing care centers.

man sitting down with woman

If you’re interested in a career as an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), you’ve likely heard the term “fieldwork.” Fieldwork is an instrumental hands-on component of becoming an OTA. Fieldwork is not only required for graduation as a certified OTA from St. Catherine University’s 16-month Online Occupational Therapy Assistant Program; it’s also where you’ll hone your skills and gain confidence in a real-world setting.

Fieldwork experience is generally divided into two parts: Fieldwork I and Fieldwork II, which we break down below. Occupational therapy fieldwork can take place in a variety of settings, including homes, workplaces, schools and more. Because St. Kate’s Online OTA Program serves students based in Minnesota, Texas, Virginia and California, we’ll work with you to find local options that are easy to commute to.

5 Tips - adults sitting on a play mat

Wondering what our program is like? Check out these 5 Tips for What to Expect in OTA School.

As a student in the St. Kate’s Online OTA Program, you’ll gain real-world experience while engaging with clients in various settings. Our rigorous clinical curriculum has earned our program the prestigious Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) accreditation.

Let’s take a look at the first phase of fieldwork in the St. Kate’s Online OTA Program.

Fieldwork I

Fieldwork I will kick off your fieldwork experience through two three-day sessions during the second half of the second semester. St. Kate’s Fieldwork I sessions focus mostly on observation and discussion, and they take place in small groups of just three to six students. Sessions are directed by certified OT or OTA instructors.

In these sessions, you’ll learn about psychosocial conditions as well as a variety of occupational therapy practices, care settings and patient populations.

Fieldwork II: Supervised Firsthand Experience

During Fieldwork II, you’ll start to practice under the supervision of a certified fieldwork educator. You’ll implement all the knowledge you’ve gained from the online portion of our program and from Fieldwork I, and you’ll start to get a feel for what an OTA does every day.

OTA working with elderly woman at table

This part of your fieldwork experience will start during your fourth semester, ensuring that you can confidently put the skills you’ve learned in your coursework and labs into practice.

Fieldwork II consists of two full-time, 8-week rotations. The first rotation generally takes place in physical disabilities care settings, such as the following:

  • Acute care or rehabilitation hospital
  • Skilled nursing facility
  • In-home or outpatient settings

During the second rotation, you’ll focus on training related to your special interests. This could include working in a pediatric health setting or even in a nursing center. For example, you may wish to help seniors remain independent or work with children to develop their social skills.

Our knowledgeable fieldwork instructors will work with you to ensure that you get the most out of your fieldwork experience. They’ll guide you through each step of the process while also giving you the space you need to learn and grow. Take it from Liliana Garcia-Reyes, a graduate of St. Kate’s Online OTA Program:

My first fieldwork was at a skilled nursing facility, and my instructor was very helpful. My fieldwork educator gave me the ability to have confidence in myself to be able to take on a session. I think sometimes as instructors I know it’s their job to watch us, and I think that’s very important, but also giving a little bit of that letting go to allow us to learn from our experiences was very important for me during my fieldwork.

3 Reviews - Woman typing on laptop

See what other students are saying about our program in these 3 Online OTA Program Reviews from St. Kate’s students.

Traveling for OTA Fieldwork

Your St. Kate’s Academic Fieldwork Coordinator will work with you to arrange hands-on fieldwork experience based on available site reservations and geographical location. With locations in all 50 states, you’ll be able to complete your fieldwork in a way that aligns with your interests, schedule and location.

Some of our students stay at an Airbnb while traveling for fieldwork, while others stay with friends or family or in a hotel.

What are the Benefits of Fieldwork?

Fieldwork provides a controlled, real-world environment in which to hone your skills. Your fieldwork educator is there to support you and answer any questions. Through their guidance, you’ll be primed to enter the field of occupational therapy, and you’ll gain a clear idea of the day-to-day role of an OTA.

Additionally, fieldwork affords you the opportunity to network with healthcare professionals and clients. Not only will you gain contacts in the occupational therapy field, but also you’ll glean an idea of what healthcare facilities look for in an OTA, which will prove helpful during your job search after completing the program.

Become an OTA in as Few as 16 Months

Tiffany, a December 2018 graduate of St. Catherine University’s Online OTA program

You can graduate from St. Kate’s Online OTA Program in as few as 16 months. After graduating, you’ll be ready to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam—the final step toward becoming a certified OTA.

To learn more about how St. Kate’s can help you become an OTA, give us a call at 877.223.2677 or fill out this form to have one of our admissions counselors contact you.

Get Started Today

*Lab Travel will be required for 6 weekends throughout the course of one year, you are not required to reside in this state.

By requesting information, I consent to be contacted by St. Catherine University through my email, phone, and text using automated technology regarding enrollment.