Fieldwork allows you to apply the theory and skills you learn in the classroom in a practice setting.
In UIC’s MS in Occupational Therapy program, fieldwork experiences are separated into five placements.
- Level IA fieldwork involves students working together to develop, implement, and evaluate group activities designed to address the psychological and social needs of the clients in a community agency.
- Level IB and IC fieldwork is specifically designed with an emphasis on helping you develop professional behaviors, beginning practice skills, and an understanding and appreciation of psychosocial issues influencing engagement in occupation. Together, these two experiences comprise a four-week clinical placement in the summer after the first year of classes.
- Level II fieldwork focuses on the application of occupational therapy theory and the development of clinical reasoning and skills to become a competent entry-level generalist occupational therapist. This experience consists of two, 12-week clinical placements, in differing areas of practice, at the conclusion of the classroom portion of the program.
Setting and location
You’ll engage in a variety of clinical and community-based fieldwork experiences. We believe that it’s important to receive clinical experience in a variety of settings such as physical disabilities, psychosocial disabilities, pediatrics and community sites.
We have relationships with fieldwork sites in the Chicago area and a limited number throughout the country. There is currently a critical shortage of fieldwork sites nationally leading to challenges in securing fieldwork opportunities in specific geographic areas and practice areas. Students who are accepted to the UIC OT program from other states may not be able to complete fieldwork in their home state due to these limited fieldwork opportunities. The primary goal when matching students to fieldwork sites is to ensure quality experiences and prepare students for entry level practice as an occupational therapist.
As a result of the national critical fieldwork shortage, the UIC Department of Occupational Therapy is not able to place all of our students for fieldwork locally or on public transportation lines. For this reason, all incoming students must be prepared to do any of the following in order to assure their fieldwork experiences prepare them for practice as entry level clinicians:
- relocate outside of Chicago for one experience
- travel more than an hour to fieldwork sites
- have access to a car and drive to their fieldwork site
Expenses while on fieldwork may include transportation, parking, housing and meals. Students who relocate for fieldwork must be prepared to bear any associated costs. For students who are primary caregivers for their children or other dependents, or who have health conditions themselves that require them to remain in the Chicago area, there is a process to request exemption from relocation.
At the conclusion of all fieldwork experiences, you’ll function at the level of a beginning practitioner and will be eligible to sit for the Occupational Therapy Certification Examination.