Tuesday, November 21, 2017

“What was helpful for my learning”: Thoughts from students after completing Basic Fieldwork 2016

Last year, after Basic Fieldwork was completed, I invited students to share their ideas about what was helpful for their learning while on placement, with the goal of sharing some of their quotes with OT Fieldwork Educators through this blog.  
Here is a glimpse of what some of our students had to say:   

  “…Talking through goals/expectations at the beginning of placement.  Also, receiving feedback as soon as possible after an interaction helped me grow.”

 "My educators were extremely supportive! They would encourage me to practice my new skills as much as possible and provided great feedback. Their constructive feedback gave me confidence in interacting with clients and made me eager for the opportunity to improve. The welcoming and supportive environment they created made me excited to go to fieldwork and made the entire experience very positive.”

 “They got the clients to engage with me directly, from the start, which helped me feel like an active participant.”

 “….the general welcoming environment of OTs and PTs…. especially with my educator, was really helpful in making me feel comfortable to ask questions and seek clarifications when needed.”

 “They also asked me for input when deliberating about clients and work, and I felt like I had something to bring to the table.”
“… I found it reassuring (especially in my first placement) that my fieldwork educators would first ask if I felt comfortable to engage with the clients alone or complete tasks individually.” 

 "My educator was gracious enough to let me know when she thought I had a good idea - even if it wasn't something she had thought of.  I found it helpful that the relationship we had built allowed me to ask questions of her that might challenge her a bit, too.” 

 “My fieldwork educator would check-in with me to see if I felt comfortable with the amount of independence I was given and if I had further questions.  I appreciated having an input on pace.”

 “…they gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions after we had seen a client. In addition, they would ask me questions to stimulate critical thinking and understanding.”

 “…I found that debriefing after every client encounter (sharing observations, noticeable improvements, recent chart note from another healthcare provider regarding client status, etc.) even just for a minute, was really helpful in my learning as it allowed me to get a glimpse of what my educator observed/was looking for and how my educator used her clinical reasoning and/or experience.” 

“My educator and I would "debrief"  (whenever possible) after we'd seen a client.  She would ask me leading questions as to what I thought was going on, what I saw as far as OPIs and what might be a suitable intervention, etc.  It encouraged me to think aloud and allowed her to get inside my brain as well.  She could high five the correct insights, tweak the ones that were off, and redirect the ones that were misguided.”

The above quotes highlight some of the wonderful ways in which educators make students feel comfortable in their first placement experience, and begin to foster their clinical reasoning and learning.
Whether you are a “seasoned” or “first time fieldwork educator”, perhaps one of these quotes will resonate with you in a way that validates what you are doing or sparks new ideas for you to consider.

Thanks to the Class of 2018 for providing this feedback to share!  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Does that really meet my expectations?

This tip was originally inspired a year ago after chatting with an educator shortly after midterm.  I think what I heard from her was that she had a little of voice inside her asking "did that really meet my expectations"?

I've heard this story many times before.  We want to give the benefit of the doubt.  We're worried about the consequence of giving a "2" on our evaluation.  We're not sure if it's that big of a deal.  But something just doesn't feel right giving a "meeting expectations" when your gut feeling is that he/she isn't.

While I know in many cases students can make improvements and meet your expectations by final without specifically targeting the area, some students need a stronger cue to specifically work on an area in order to meet your expectations at final.

So what do you do?

·        Be very clear (and as soon as possible) that even though he/she received a “3/meets expectations” at midterm, that your expectations will be rising for final.  So simply doing as he/she has been doing will no longer be enough—he/she must actively work towards making improvements.

·         Ask the student to create an action plan for meeting the expectation.  Students get experience with this develop professional development plans in the program (and this is practice for real life as those who just submitted PDPs know).  You might have a few suggestions as well.  You may even want to involve us in helping the student.

Here are a couple of common examples I have heard over the years:

You have outlined some things for the student to complete (journal reflection, intervention plan, creating a resource list etc), however the student doesn’t seem to be taking the initiative to follow through.  It isn’t until you remind him or specifically ask for it again that there is follow through, which may even be after the deadline you originally gave.  (So in this case it might fit best under C.1. Demonstrated ability to assume responsibility for working with clients and to carry out assigned duties).


You have a student who is very shy.  While she is very polite and responds to questions, she rarely initiates conversations with you and you have not observed her talking with other team members even communication with clients is minimal. (In this case it might fit best under B.11 Initiated communication with fieldwork educator(s), other staff and clients as indicated by the situation)

·         Share your observation with the student:
“I’m noticing that….”

·         Let him/her know the implications of her not initiating communication.
“This behaviour might be interpreted as…..” or “The impact this might have on your practice is…..”

·         Let him/her know what your expectation is for final (what would meeting expectations look like) and link it directly back to the evaluation
“By final I expect that you will….. in order to meet the expectations for the for this section of the evaluation”

·         Much like for a client, have the student create an action plan to meet this as a goal. 
“I would like you create an action plan for how you plan to meet this goal” (It is fine to expect this to be done outside of fieldwork hours).  You might have some suggestions here on some strategies.

·         Make this a priority area to provide feedback
It will be important that the student is receiving feedback specific to these areas along the way so there is no “guessing” involved.  That said, ensure that you continue to focus on their strengths too!

As always, let me know if you have any comments or questions.  Lisa

Friday, February 19, 2016

Wrapping up the placement

The last week of placement can be hectic.  Not only do you need to complete your role as educator but you also need to prepare for resuming some of your work load that you have passed on to your student (s).

In preparation for the end of placement:

Have your student treat the end of placement how you 
would wrap things up prior to going on holidays. 

Have the student write notes on each client he/she was involved with.  

This might include:
            what has been done and
            what is outstanding that is being passed back to you. 

The result:
  • You will have a handy summary 
  • The student will have “real world” practice of handing over a caseload

Monday, November 30, 2015

Oh no...my student just asked about theory!!

 Does the thought of talking about theory seem a little daunting to you?  
Do you dread the moment when your student asks “what theory are you using”?

Students in their first term of the MOT program have had almost as much exposure to occupational therapy theory as they have had to practice skills. Much like when you build a new house, a strong foundation is an important stage in OT student development.

To help students consider theory and practice together, they have been given the Theory Advancement Process (TAP) workbook to complete while on their fieldwork placement. The workbook includes questions that ask students to consider the use of theory in practice using examples from their fieldwork placement. Students have been encouraged to talk to their fieldwork educators about how they use theory in practice or what theory or theories inform their work with clients.

To help make those conversations with your student about theory a little easier, we offer a few suggestions:

It’s OK to not know how to name the theories/model of practice you use in your practice. 
It might be because they are so embedded in your practice that it is hard to put into words.  It might even be that the names and terminology have changed since you last learned theories.  Just because you can’t name them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Describing your approach with the client and your reasoning for taking that approach can help the student figure out what theory or theories may be influencing your practice. It’s okay to let them try to figure it out!  

It’s OK to share with students that some theories/models don’t fit with your practice. Sometimes our context dictates a lot about how well our theories and models can fit with our practice.  Sometimes we work in roles that aren’t specific to OT.  Sometimes we work in environments that only focus on a small part of a larger continuum.    It is not realistic that every placement fits with all models.

It’s OK to learn with and from your student. 
o   Encourage your student to share his/her thoughts on what they believe is guiding your practice or what theory they think you might be using. You shouldn’t have to provide them with all the answers. They just spent 12 weeks learning about all kinds of theory. They should be able to recognize theory in practice (though they might not always be able to do it on the spot).
o   Ask your student what his/her favourite model was in Theory class.  Does he/she feel it fits with your practice?  Why or why not?
o   Is there a model/theory that you’ve heard about/are wondering about?  Ask the student if he/she can share that information with you (and as a bonus how it fits with your practice).

Fieldwork education isn’t just about the student learning from you.  You don’t need to know it all.  Take this as an opportunity to stop and think about what guides your practice.  Take this as an opportunity to learn from your student.  In the words of one of our Manitoba OT educators, “you likely will learn more from your student than you think …take the experience as the gift that it is”. 

Written by Lisa Mendez and Leanne Leclair