Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Occupational therapy students do not always feel prepared to start fieldwork. The study purposes were to 1) measure the effectiveness of refresher sessions on students’ perceived self-efficacy, knowledge, and skills related to fieldwork preparedness and 2) determine whether using simulation with standardized patients (SPs) was more effective than a discussion-based format. The participants (N=34) were entry-level occupational therapy doctoral (OTD) students. Four students acted as a control group while the remaining 30 students were randomly assigned to experimental groups (discussion or simulation). Outcome measures included a readiness for fieldwork survey (quantitative self-reported ratings and qualitative questions), a knowledge-based exam, and a competency evaluation. The experimental groups’ total mean differences were greater than the control group, although these were not statistically significant (p = .551). However, there were statistically significant differences between the groups for two survey items (p = .010; p = .045). There were also statistically significant differences for within-group measures for each experimental group related to self-efficacy (simulation group, p = .006; discussion group, p = .001), but not for the control group. This suggests that both discussion and simulation were effective in increasing student fieldwork readiness. The qualitative data provided additional insight into student perceptions about fieldwork, patient interactions, and level of confidence. Study findings supported the implementation of refresher sessions and demonstrated that using either discussion or simulation were effective options. Further research examining specific strategies for both interventions and combining the two for optimal student preparation would be beneficial.


Elena Wong Espiritu, OTD, OTR/L, BCPR is an Associate Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Belmont University. Prior to academia, she worked 10 years in the adult physical disabilities setting providing acute care, inpatient acute rehabilitation and outpatient services as a clinician and team coordinator.

Thu M. Can, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. This research study was completed in partial fulfillment of her doctoral capstone requirements for Belmont’s entry-level OTD program.

Natalie N. Michaels, PT, EdD, GCS Emeritus is a Physical Therapist and a Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department at Belmont University, College of Health Sciences. She is a Geriatric Clinical Specialist Emeritus through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

Allison Koch, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor and MSOT Program Director in the School of Occupational Therapy at Belmont University. At the time this research study was completed, Dr. Koch was the OTD Academic Fieldwork Coordinator.

Beth F. Hallmark, PhD, RN, MSN, CHSE is the Director of Simulation for the College of Health Sciences and Nursing at Belmont University and is a faculty member in the School of Nursing.

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.