Benefits and challenges of supervising occupational therapy fieldwork students: Supervisors’ perspectives
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Background/aim: Increased enrolments in occupational therapy education programs, together with changes in the employment patterns of practising occupational therapists, have resulted in a crisis in fieldwork education in Australia. This study aimed to investigate fieldwork supervisors' perspectives regarding the benefits and challenges of providing fieldwork placements, explore the potential link between providing student placements and later workforce recruitment, and document currently employed models of fieldwork supervision. Methods: Participants included past, present and potential future fieldwork supervisors, sourced from fieldwork coordinators' databases at The University of Queensland and James Cook University. Using an online, purpose-designed questionnaire, descriptive data (frequencies and percentages) were gathered from forced-choice questions. For open-ended questions, content analysis was conducted to identify categories and themes. Results: One hundred and thirty-two surveys were completed. Benefits of fieldwork placements related to opportunities for later recruitment of fieldwork students, students conducting projects and developing resources, a sense of contributing to the occupational therapy profession, and the development of employee skills. Challenges related to staffing issues, lack of physical resources and prohibitive workload pressures. Multiple models of supervision were employed in supervisors' workplaces, and almost all participants responsible for workplace employment had employed fieldwork students they had previously supervised. Conclusions: The results demonstrate a strong link between supervision and later recruitment of fieldwork students, suggesting that supervision of students is of considerable advantage to the host organisations in the recruitment of appropriately prepared employees. The study also demonstrates additional benefits to be promoted to supervisors and organisations to encourage and support fieldwork placements.
Australian Occupational Therapy Journal
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified