Brief Report
Issue Date: January/February 2020
Published Online: November 02, 2019
Updated: April 30, 2020
Nurturing the Prepared Mind: Research During Level II Fieldwork
Author Affiliations
  • Tera A. Richards, MS, OTRL, is Occupational Therapist, Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District, Clare, MI. At the time of the study, she was Occupational Therapist, War Memorial Hospital, Sault Ste. Marie, MI;
  • Sara Clark, MS, OTRL, is Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Department of Occupational Therapy, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.
  • Stephanie J. Dapice Wong, DPT, PT, OTRL, CAPS, is Chairperson and Director of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences, Touro College, Bay Shore, NY.
  • Helen S. Cohen, EdD, OTR, FAOTA, is Professor, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.
  • Susan L. Garber, MA, OTR, FAOTA, FACRM, is Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.
Article Information
Education of OTs and OTAs / Columns: Brief Report
Brief Report   |   November 02, 2019
Nurturing the Prepared Mind: Research During Level II Fieldwork
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November 2019, Vol. 74, 7401345020.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November 2019, Vol. 74, 7401345020.

Importance: Level II fieldwork is one of the last opportunities for students to learn from clinicians modeling how to gather practice-based data for research before independent practice.

Objective: To identify options for incorporating active research opportunities in the Level II fieldwork experience and the barriers that preclude these opportunities.

Design: Approximately 575 electronic surveys (QuestionPro), consisting of 31 questions, distributed to fieldwork sites.

Participants: A convenience sample of fieldwork educators and clinical fieldwork coordinators recruited from sites in several states.

Outcomes and Measures: We hypothesized that the main obstacles to providing Level II fieldwork students with research experience were a lack of time resulting from productivity pressures and fieldwork educators’ belief that Level II fieldwork should primarily focus on mastering clinical skills.

Results: One hundred thirteen surveys were started, and 95 were completed. Most respondents reported that Level II fieldwork students would benefit from participation in research. However, only two fieldwork sites with occupational therapists involved in research intentionally coordinated Level II fieldwork students in an active research opportunity. Clinical responsibilities and the lack of current experienced investigators at the fieldwork site were the most significant barriers to these opportunities.

Conclusions and Relevance: Fieldwork educators identify ways for Level II fieldwork students to participate in research but typically do not have time or resources to eliminate identified barriers to research participation. Lost opportunities to participate in research in Level II fieldwork must be addressed to promote greater research inquiry in the future occupational therapy clinical workforce.

What This Article Adds: The article adds to the literature describing the barriers to student participation in research activity during Level II Fieldwork and the types of research activity occupational therapy students participated in during a 12-wk rotation.