University of Washington Division of Occupational Therapy

Clinical Learning Experiences

Our philosophy is that clinical skills are best refined through working with real clients in real-world environments. We provide a variety of immersive Clinical Learning Experiences in the community in addition to typical classroom-based labs and simulations. These experiences start the first quarter of the program and continue every quarter until graduation. Students gain real-world practical experience outside the classroom and develop clinical reasoning and technical skills through course-related assignments, the capstone Graduate Project,  Fieldwork I, and Fieldwork II.

Course Assignments

UW MOT students practicing transfers with walkers in a simulated lab

At least one course per quarter includes a structured Clinical Learning Experience assignment. These assignments are designed to build on each other throughout the program.

For example, to master clinical interviewing skills, students first interview a resident at a local retirement facility to build an occupational profile. They continue to refine this skill by interviewing parents as part of a pediatric assessment, and consumers who use assistive technology in everyday life. More examples of structured Clinical Learning Experience assignments:

• Focused treatment observation and analysis
• Standardized test administration
• Transfer training
• Client assessment and treatment
• Community site usability evaluation
• Home accessibility assessment

Capstone Graduate Projects

The Graduate Project combines an in-depth Clinical Learning Experience with an opportunity to give back to the community through service learning. The projects extend over four quarters. Students write a scholarly paper, design a professional poster, and present their projects at a year-end Community Symposium. Each team is guided by a faculty advisor and one or more community mentors. Every year, several students present their projects at local, state, and national conferences. Browse our gallery of past MOT Graduate Projects.

Fieldwork I and Fieldwork II

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Fieldwork is the occupational therapy term for clinical education that is required under national accreditation standards. It includes Fieldwork I and Fieldwork II. Fieldwork II always occurs in community settings. The accreditation standards for Fieldwork I placements, however, allow for a variety of clinical experiences including classroom-based simulations and labs. In keeping with our philosophy for immersive, authentic clinical learning, all of our Fieldwork experiences take place in a community-based setting outside the classroom.

Fieldwork I

There are four Fieldwork I experiences in the program. Each one is a full-time 1 week (approximately 40 hours) placement at a clinical site under the supervision of an occupational therapy practitioner or other health professional. Each placement is linked to a theory and practice course in mental health, physical disabilities, pediatrics, and geriatrics. We integrate this real-world practical experience in the field into core coursework through assessment reports, treatment planning, documentation notes, and class discussions.

Fieldwork II

There are two full-time Fieldwork II experiences which take place the last two quarters of the program. Each Fieldwork II experience is 12 weeks long. These placements occur at two clinical sites under the supervision of occupational therapy Fieldwork Educators. During each placement, the student gradually assumes full responsibilities for a client caseload. By the end of each experience, students have the skills necessary to work as an entry-level occupational therapist in that practice setting. In our program, one Fieldwork II placement must be in physical disabilities. The other is the student’s choice between mental health, pediatrics, or geriatrics.

When do students go on Fieldwork placements?

Students go on their first Fieldwork I experience in the fourth quarter (Summer Quarter) of the program and continue to have one Fieldwork I experience every quarter for the next year. Students typically begin their Fieldwork II placements in the Summer Quarter of the second year. For more detail, view the  MOT curriculum summary.

Students in the occupational therapy program comply with the requirements detailed in the University’s affiliation agreements with clinical sites, and as required by the UW School of Medicine, regarding the completion and documentation of immunizations. These are in accordance with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for healthcare personnel and requirements for the UW School of Medicine. Additionally, students must pass criminal background checks before and during the program and in compliance with the University’s affiliation agreements with clinical sites.

Where do students go on Fieldwork placements?

We have over 350 active contracts with fieldwork sites around the US. This allows for a broad range of student experiences and flexibility in placements. Students have gone as far north as Anchorage, Alaska, and as far east as Cumberland, Maine. Enrolled students can also work with our Academic Fieldwork Coordinator to add new sites to our list. Students who go outside the Greater Seattle area for fieldwork make their own transportation and living arrangements.