Pamela Kirke BApScOT, MOT, PGCertHPE, AccOT; Lecturer. Natasha Layton BApScOT, MHScOT; Consultant Occupational Therapist. Dr Jenny Sim PhD; Senior Lecturer.
Informing fieldwork design: Key elements to quality in fieldwork education for undergraduate occupational therapy students
Article first published online: 9 DEC 2007
Australian Occupational Therapy Journal
Volume 54, Issue Supplement s1, pages S13–S22, December 2007
How to Cite
Kirke, P., Layton, N. and Sim, J. (2007), Informing fieldwork design: Key elements to quality in fieldwork education for undergraduate occupational therapy students. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 54: S13–S22. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1630.2007.00696.x
- Issue published online: 9 DEC 2007
- Article first published online: 9 DEC 2007
- Accepted for publication 21 February 2007.
- evidence-based practice;
- professional education;
- qualitative research
Aim: In this current climate of escalating student fees, students as paying consumers expect a quality fieldwork experience. However, the ability of universities to deliver quality fieldwork programs is compromised by the increasing pressure experienced by fieldwork educators to meet productivity targets in the face of diminishing resources. This paper details how one university, Monash University, sought input from stakeholders to design a fieldwork program.
Methods: This qualitative study utilised focus groups to inform the researchers of stakeholders’ perceptions of what constitutes quality fieldwork education. A total of five focus groups were held, involving 47 occupational therapists practising in Victoria.
Results: The major findings include the need to provide ongoing professional development for fieldwork educators, the need to develop tangible strategies in recognition of their contribution towards fieldwork education, and the imperative for closer collaboration between universities and fieldwork educators.
Conclusions: Based on literature and in response to the focus group discussions, Monash University has implemented a number of measures to ensure the successful implementation of quality fieldwork education. These include providing ongoing professional development for fieldwork educators to enhance their role, addressing fieldwork educators’ concerns about project placements and supporting students with fieldwork relocation. Most importantly, this study demonstrates the need for educational institutions to take the lead in dialogue with the profession to enhance a collaborative response to constant changes in health-care directions. The importance of ongoing research to inform quality fieldwork education is critical to moving the profession forward.