Document Type (Journals)

Educational Innovations


Occupational therapy (OT) educators are challenged to utilize instructional strategies that ensure student preparedness for Level II fieldwork. Standardized patient encounters (SPEs) offer students a low risk simulation opportunity to develop clinical skills and improve fieldwork readiness while enhancing OT students’ confidence. Yet, despite the benefits and perceived value of simulation among educators and students, SPEs are not used as frequently as other instructional methods. The purpose of this educational innovation paper is to describe the curriculum development process of an overall SPE experience embedded within a synthesis course that prepared students for Level II fieldwork and to evaluate the impact of the experience on student performance skills and perceptions of fieldwork readiness. Design and implementation of the SPE followed a six-step approach to curriculum development. Data was collected via direct observation of the SPE guided by an adapted version of Henderson’s Clinical Performance Assessment Tool and a pre- post- SPE questionnaire. Twenty-five OT students participated in the SPE experience. Results indicated the students performed assessment, intervention, and documentation skills above targeted domain expectations for fieldwork readiness and students had increased perceptions of fieldwork readiness. Open-ended post-SPE questions revealed self-reported strengths and challenges. Based upon the predominant themes in areas of challenge, four curricular enhancements were identified. This innovative curricular design may inform the development of other SPE experiences and serve as a model for other OT educators as they strive to implement effective instructional strategies for fieldwork readiness.


Lisa Sakemiller, OTD, MOT, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Findlay. This study was the capstone for her OTD at Thomas Jefferson University.

Susan Toth-Cohen, PhD, OTR/L is Professor and Director of the Post-Professional Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy at the Jefferson College of Health Professions at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Toth-Cohen served as mentor and advisor for the capstone project.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.