Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Occupational therapy fieldwork education has historically followed the traditional apprenticeship model, which pairs one student with one fieldwork educator for supervision and guidance through the transformational process from student to entry-level clinician. There is an absence of high-level evidence to support this model as best practice in fieldwork education. Despite data published to endorse alternative supervision models, fieldwork educators (FWEs) appear hesitant to embrace these approaches. The purpose of this investigation was to explore occupational therapy practitioners’ views on the value and challenges associated with the implementation of non-traditional models of supervision during Level II fieldwork education. The study specifically targeted practitioners’ opinions related to the 1:2, 2:1, and group models. A descriptive survey gathered data from 304 participants across the United States. Results indicated that 48% of occupational therapy practitioners have never utilized a non-traditional supervision model. Practitioners identified three primary barriers to usage of non-traditional supervision models in Level II fieldwork education: time commitment, lack of physical resources, and lack of education on the topic. Survey findings revealed that partnering institutions were the primary means by which FWEs received training related to fieldwork supervision. The conclusions from this study highlight the significant need to develop continuing education specific to non-traditional fieldwork supervision models. Practical recommendations are discussed to aid in promoting non-traditional supervision model usage. Collaboration between academic and fieldwork educators is imperative to expanding fieldwork opportunities necessary to ensure best practice in student preparation.


Michelle Forfa, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor and AFWC for the Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT. She is experienced, clinically with the adult and aging populations. Dr. Forfa mentored many students as a FWE prior to entering academia as an AFWC in 2018.

Christine Helfrich, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA is Professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy at American International College. She is an experienced AFWC and FWE, having created Level I & II non-traditional placements in multiple settings for both OTA and OT students.

Rebecca L. Simon, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA is an Associate Professor and AFWC for the Entry Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI. Although beginning her role as a pediatric clinician, Dr. Simon has been in academia since 2001, becoming a full time AFWC in 2008.

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.