International fieldwork placements and occupational therapy: Lived experiences of the major stakeholders

Julija Simonelis, Janet Njelesani, Laura Novak, Courtney Kuzma, Deb Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Occupational therapy students obtain a great deal of their professional preparation and experience through fieldwork placements. Although many occupational therapy students have taken part in international fieldwork placements, there is little research on this topic. As fieldwork placements are an integral part of the education of occupational therapy students, literature on the subject of international fieldwork placements is necessary. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to examine the personal and professional experiences of occupational therapy students, supervisors, and on-site staff who have taken part in an international fieldwork placement. Methods: Qualitative interviews for this phenomenological study were administered with 14 participants who had taken part in an international fieldwork placement in Trinidad and Tobago. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: Three themes emerged: collaborative learning, cultural negotiations and thinking on my own. Discussion: Considering fieldwork is a critical component in the occupational therapy curriculum, it is reassuring to uncover that international placements can be of benefit to all stakeholders while achieving its primary goal of preparing students to become competent therapists. All participants developed a greater cultural awareness and appreciation, which is necessary as occupational therapists are increasingly working in diverse settings with diverse client groups. This information can also be used to enhance international fieldwork education as students continue to travel abroad to complete their mandatory fieldwork hours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-377
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Conceptual foundations
  • Culture
  • Fieldwork
  • Professional education
  • Qualitative research
  • occupational therapy
  • occupational therapy student
  • clinical fieldwork
  • fieldwork experience
  • experiential learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


Dive into the research topics of 'International fieldwork placements and occupational therapy: Lived experiences of the major stakeholders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this