The Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy

: 2022  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 130--131

Impact of coronavirus disease 2019 on occupational therapy students' fieldwork in the United States of America

Shivani Bharti Vij 
 Winchester Medical Center, Virginia, USA

Correspondence Address:
Shivani Bharti Vij
42291 Ashmead Terrace, Brambleton, Virginia, 20148

How to cite this article:
Vij SB. Impact of coronavirus disease 2019 on occupational therapy students' fieldwork in the United States of America.Indian J Occup Ther 2022;54:130-131

How to cite this URL:
Vij SB. Impact of coronavirus disease 2019 on occupational therapy students' fieldwork in the United States of America. Indian J Occup Ther [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 28 ];54:130-131
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Full Text

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is drastically altering the educational experience of occupational therapy students across the globe, much like its impact on higher education in other curricula. In the most recent issue of the Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy, the authors discussed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the academics of students pursuing Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) in Maharashtra state.[1] The article emphasized the impact of COVID-19 on clinical postings, assignments, and an overall transition from theory to practical learning of MOT students.[1]

Similar to these findings, the COVID-19 pandemic hugely impacts clinical fieldwork placements of occupational therapy students in the United States of America (USA). Per the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®) Standards, fieldwork is “a crucial part of professional preparation.”[2] In the USA, level I fieldwork focuses on teaching the basics of occupational therapy during the 1st and 2nd years of the program.[2] In contrast, level II fieldwork explores entry-level practice to enter the work field. Level II fieldwork seeks to develop competent, entry-level generalist occupational therapists, and occupational therapy assistants.[2] Level II fieldwork in the USA is 24 weeks long for occupational therapy students, comparable to internship training in occupational therapy schools in India. It requires exposure to various traditional and emerging practice settings and a variety of client ages and conditions.

Since the pandemic began, many health-care facilities have been limiting their participation in occupational therapy student fieldwork rotations as they seek to limit possible exposure of the COVID-19 virus to their patients.[3] Outpatient clinics are also avoiding fieldwork placements as they are experiencing a decrease in productivity as patients cancel their therapy sessions due to mandated stay-at-home orders.[3] Schools and pediatric clinics are using telehealth services as schools are closed down, and family schedules are up in the air due to several parents working from home due to stay-at-home orders.[3]

Many students experience high-stress levels as they worry that they may be unable to fulfill their graduation requirements with the limited number of fieldwork opportunities currently available as fieldwork coordinators across the country scramble to find facilities willing to work with students in the middle of this pandemic.[3]

Some health-care facilities may feel that supporting student fieldwork while trying to recover from a pandemic may not be a high priority.[3] However, once the COVID-19 pandemic comes to a close, occupational therapy students must be ready to join the workforce. Occupational therapy fieldwork students will be a real asset to health-care facilities, especially in a challenging time like a pandemic. They can engage in program redevelopment projects and keep practitioners up-to-date with the current and new practices, especially in technology-driven areas such as telehealth models.[3]

Students can also provide a helpful extra set of hands as practitioners handle busier than average caseloads during the pandemic. Above all, supervising students is intrinsically rewarding. It promotes satisfaction in giving back to the profession and shaping the future of occupational therapy, which is especially important during a challenging time such as the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1Palsule SP, Khanna HV. Effect of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on academics of students pursuing masters of occupational therapy in Maharashtra State: An observational cross-sectional study. Indian J Occup Ther 2022;54:14-18.
2American Occupational Therapy Association. Accreditation council for occupational therapy education (ACOTE®) standards. Am J Occup Ther 2012;66:S6-S74.
3Dudzinsk K, Sampson A. COVID-19, and the Impact on OT and OTA Fieldwork Florida. Florida Occupational Therapy Association; c2022. Available from: [Last accessed on 2022 Jul 24].