FLOTEC Article for FOTA

Summer 2015

Submitted by Linda R. Struckmeyer, MA, OTR/L, ATP

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator

University of Florida

PhD candidate, Texas Woman’s University

Lifelong learning and fieldwork: Who is the student? 

“The authentic occupational therapist recognizes his responsibility to be a lifelong student and to contribute to the body of knowledge” (Yerxa, 1967). Lifelong learning is the personal and professional quest for knowledge. It is a voluntary, self-motivated process (wikipedia) that can continue over the lifespan. Experienced clinicians have much knowledge to impart on occupational therapy students. Likewise, occupational therapy students are familiar with the newest evidence and theory development in the profession and have different knowledge to share with the experienced therapist.  Part of being a life-long learner is being open to new perspectives, opportunities, and ideas (Campbell, 2014). Campbell (2014) further suggests that being a lifelong learner is the key to a successful career and a successful life. In this “Era of Hyperchange” (Hinojosa, 2007) occupational therapists need to find creative ways to stay current with changes in the occupational therapy profession. Today’s students (and our OT clients) learn in very different ways than they did even 10 years ago. Hinojosa, in his Eleanor Clark Slagle Lecture (2007). proposes that professional relationships are connections that can provide support systems for the stress of hyperchange. The relationships formed between fieldwork educators and fieldwork students can be the beginning of lifelong learning partnerships.  Supervision of fieldwork students is one way to keep up with new evidence based assessment and intervention methods (Evenson, 2014). It is also a way to stay current with theoretical frameworks that guide occupational therapy practice. As a therapist do you know how to implement Occupational Adaptation theory or KAWA theory into your practice? Have you seen the newest edition of the Sensory Profile? Have you seen the newest edition of Willard and Spackman’s Occupational Therapy? Students have these resources to share with fieldwork educators. Through in-services, which are often a site assignment requirement, students can share new resources and evidence with the facility staff.   In conclusion, I hope you have answered the question who is the student? Yes, both the fieldwork educator (FE) and the occupational therapy student (OTS) are students. Both have different roles in the learning process as the FE teaches and learns and as the OTS learns and shares. Lifelong learning is just one of the many benefits of being a fieldwork educator. 

*OTS refers to both occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant students 


Campbell, C. (2014). Finding a Better Version of You: Life-Long Learning Opens the Door to Self-Improvement. PR Newswire. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1566154322?accountid=10920 Everson, M. (2014). Fieldwork and Professional Entry in Schell, Gillen & Scaffa Willard & Spackman’s Occupational Therapy 12th ed. Wolters Kluwer: Philadelphia.  Hinojosa, J. (2007). Becoming Innovators in an Era of Hyperchange. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 629-637. Yerxa, E. (1967). Authentic Occupational Therapy.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 21(1). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifelong_learning