Factors affecting Saskatchewan occupational therapists' involvement in fieldwork
Tompson, Margaret-Ann Michelle
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Fieldwork represents an important component of the education of an occupational therapist. Since the Second World War there has been a shortage of fieldwork placements in Canada. The existence and quality of a fieldwork placement depends on the clinical educator, yet little is known of their perspective of the fieldwork process. In this study thirteen occupational therapists in small Saskatchewan occupational therapy facilities were interviewed to determine the factors and the relationships among these factors that affected their involvement in the fieldwork process. The directors of the two large occupational therapy departments in Saskatchewan, together with eight Canadian university fieldwork co-ordinators were interviewed for comparison purposes. The findings of the study have shown that there were four major influences affecting Saskatchewan therapists' involvement in the fieldwork program of occupational therapy students. They were: workload; feelings of isolation; the parameters of a placement; and professionalism. The overall effect of factors relating to the therapist's workload was negative. In contrast the effect of factors relating to a therapist's feelings of isolation was positive. The remaining two influences, parameters of a placement and professionalism, had no clear postive or negative effect. The findings of this study have been corroborated by the existing literature and the views of the university fieldwork co-ordinators and directors. There was however some discrepancy in perspective regarding the type of contact necessary between the co-ordinators and the therapists. There was also no clear concensus among participants of this study over who was responsible for some aspects of the fieldwork process. This study is important because it has identified significant factors for university fieldwork co-ordinators to consider in their contact with therapists. It has also provided a model for other similar studies.