Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Fieldwork is an essential part of a student’s education and development to become competent in entry-level occupational therapy skills (ACOTE, 2018). The implications of COVID-19 coupled with staffing shortages and an increase in academic programs resulted in academic fieldwork coordinators competing for a limited number of spots. The Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) integrated the use of simulation as an instructional method to meet Standard C.1.9 for Fieldwork I. This study used a retrospective cohort design to determine the impact of virtual simulation-based Level I fieldwork on performance in Level II fieldwork. Thirty-seven Doctor of Occupational Therapy students’ Level II fieldwork performance evaluation scores were compared based on their placement in a traditional or simulation-based Level IA fieldwork. Nineteen students were reassigned to Simucase to complete their Level IA fieldwork due to COVID-19, and the remaining eighteen completed their traditional setting as scheduled. All students then completed a traditional Level IB. The Fieldwork Performance Evaluation (FWPE) was utilized by the students’ fieldwork educators to assess their performance. There was no statistically significant difference between the students that completed the simulation-based Level I fieldwork and the students that completed both Level I experiences in person in their Level IIA and Level IIB FWPE scores (p=0.683, p=0.889). Additionally, there was no statistically significant difference found between the subsections on the FWPE between the two groups. The results of this study advance the current literature regarding the use of simulation-based experiences in occupational therapy education by displaying a comparable alternative to the traditional fieldwork model.


Rebecca Ozelie, DHS, ORT/L is the Chair and Program Director, an Associate Professor and the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at Rush University in Chicago, IL at the time of this study. Dr. Ozelie is actively involved in research and teaching with a focus on physical disabilities, fieldwork and occupational therapy education.

Maggie Moeller, OTS and Taylor Newmark, OTS were Doctorate Students at Rush University in Chicago, IL at the time of the study.

Declaration of Interest

The authors reported no declaration 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.