Occupational Therapy – Fieldwork Education

What is Fieldwork?

Fieldwork is an integral part of the professional training to become an occupational therapist. As stated by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), "the purpose of fieldwork is to propel each generation of occupational therapy practitioners from the role of student to that of practitioner" (AOTA, 2009).  The Accreditation Committee for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) sets the standards for occupational therapy fieldwork level I and level II. Fieldwork experiences offer the opportunity to put theory to practice and integrate classroom learning. Students are assigned to clinics and hospitals in the community and are trained by working clinicians. Placements may be in settings such as acute care, acute rehabilitation, long term care, pediatrics, psychosocial/mental health or in adult physical disability settings. There may also be opportunities in emerging or non-traditonal settings as well. At Samuel Merritt University an emphasis is placed on providing a variance of experience in fieldwork.

What are the fieldwork requirements at Samuel Merritt University?

Fieldwork education at Samuel Merritt University is designed in accordance with the Accreditation Committee for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) standards of education. Level I Fieldwork is completed in the summer between the first and second years of didactic coursework. Students complete two 40 hour experiences in two different practice settings: one in an adult physical disabilities setting and one in a mental health setting.  An optional Level I fieldwork is offered in pediatrics. Level I Fieldwork is a hands-on opportunity for students to practice observation skills, professional behaviors, and practical application of occupational therapy theory. 

After completing two years of didactic coursework, students begin Level II Fieldwork, which includes three-month rotations at two different clinical sites, totaling six months as required by ACOTE Standards. Level II Fieldwork is the final stage of professional education, designed to transition a student to the full responsibilities of an entry-level occupational therapist. 

All occupational therapy students must successfully complete Level I and Level II fieldwork prior to graduating in order to become eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination.

Who are the Academic Fieldwork Coordinators (AFWC)?

Liz Kleine
Liz Kleine, MOT, OTR/L

Donna Berger Stanton
Donna Breger Stanton OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA

At Samuel Merritt University we have a team of Academic Fieldwork Coordinators. The Academic Fieldwork Coordinators are the faculty members who oversee fieldwork education. The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFWC) for Level I Fieldwork is Liz Kleine, MOT, OTR/L. She can be reached via email: lkleine@samuelmerritt.edu  or by telephone: 510-869-6511x3721.

The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFWC) for Level II Fieldwork is Donna Breger Stanton, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA. Dr. Breger Stanton can be reached via email: dbreger@samuelmerritt.edu or by telephone: 510-869-6743.  She is assisted by Domenique Embrey, MS, OTR/L, Assistant Professor. She can be reached at dembrey@samuelmerrritt.edu or 510-869-6511 x5913. Goli Hashemi, MPH, OTR/L, Assistant Professor is providing more of the administrative duties related to our database, EXXAT, and  other relevant assignments.

Who are the Fieldwork Educators (FWE)?

A Fieldwork Educator is the clinician who directly supervises a student on site during fieldwork. For Level I Fieldwork, the Fieldwork Educator is often an occupational therapist, although this is not a requirement per ACOTE standards. A student could be supervised by an individual in another health profession (such as a recreation therapist, physical therapist, or social worker) for the required Level I Fieldwork experiences.

For Level II Fieldwork, occupational therapists must have a minimum of at least one year of experience post-graduation to be eligible to supervise a student. The occupational therapist must be licensed in California.  If you have any questions about qualifications to be a fieldwork educator, please do contact us.  If you are interested in taking a student for Level I and/or Level II, please contact us as well.

How to use this site?

Please use this site to learn more about requirements for fieldwork, how to complete and access forms, and how to locate other resources. Information is included for both fieldwork students and fieldwork educators.  Please link to either for paperwork or forms that have been posted for your convenience.

For questions or suggestions about this section of the webpage please contact:

Donna Breger Stanton at dbreger@samuelmerritt.edu.

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