graduate program: Occupational Therapy

Level Two Fieldwork

Legal Aspects
(From the Guide to Fieldwork Education, 1995*)

Educational Program:
“The academic educational program has the right to inquire about and to be notified of the student's progress at the fieldwork education center. If a student is not passing at the time of the midterm evaluation, the program should be notified. The final decision of whether or not the student continues a specific fieldwork placement rests with the academic educational program unless the fieldwork education center asks that the student be withdrawn.

The academic educational program has the right to be informed of any changes in the clinical experiences provided for the student. Changes that would affect the amount of time or scheduled dates must be negotiated. The academic program must notify the clinical facility promptly if a student is to be cancelled. It is recognized that very short notice may occur if a student experiences academic difficulty immediately before beginning a fieldwork assignment.� (p. 70)

Fieldwork Center Rights:
“The fieldwork educators, considered adjunct faculty members of the academic educational program, have the right to inquire about the student's academic grades and performance on prior fieldwork placements. Fieldwork educators however do not routinely request this information because the academic program has certified that the student has successfully completed the required educational standards.

The fieldwork educators have the right to prompt consultation with the appropriate academic faculty member or fieldwork coordinator regarding all phases of the fieldwork process.� (p.71)

Student rights:
“The student has the right not to be discriminated against and the right not to be treated arbitrarily. The student has the right not to have information disseminated capriciously by the fieldwork education center or the academic educational program and the right to know what information is being kept on file. The student may request to see records on file, including all information, except medical records, psychiatric information, and police reports. Information compiled by the fieldwork education center is also considered an educational record and the student has the same rights to access that information.

The student has the right to be appropriately supervised by fieldwork educators. This may include protection from injury by patients and defective equipment.

The student has the right to be evaluated and to be informed of his/her progress on a regular basis. If the performance is not acceptable and does not comply with the stated norms and objectives of the fieldwork education center, the student must be informed. Written documentation should be provided. If failing, the student may request either continuation of the fieldwork placement or withdrawal. If the fieldwork education center agrees to allow the student to continue, what required changes in the student's performance and specific goals within a time limit should be established? The academic educational facility must be notified of a failing student at midterm. If the student withdraws form the fieldwork placement, he/she should be informed of the consequences, which may vary greatly among academic educational programs.

In public institutions, the student has the right to receive due process in any actions that might affect constitutionally protected interests.� (pp. 71-72)

The Xavier University Department of Occupational Therapy believes that the student has the right to contest the FWE if they can provide evidence of conditions in which the evaluation was prepared in a discriminatory, capricious, or arbitrary manner. The student has the right to disagree with the assessment of the students work performance, however said disagreement will not necessarily alter the supervisor's final assessment. This reinforces the importance of establishing objective performance standards for the items on the fieldwork evaluation form.

The student must give written consent for information to be released. This applies particularly to letters of recommendation. The consent form must be signed by the student, dated, and must specify what information and to who information may be released.

“One issue within the concept of confidentiality is the issue of communication between the academic fieldwork coordinator and the fieldwork supervisor. Confidentiality is defined in this forum as putting into another's trust or keeping information which one wishes to be kept secret.

The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974) and the Buckley amendment of this act prevents unauthorized individuals from gaining access to educational records. Any individuals seeking information about problems, academic records or performance of a specific student has to have permission to gain said information. Specifically, if the fieldwork supervisor is seeking information from the academic fieldwork coordinator, the coordinator cannot release information unless the student has given written permission to do so.

In defining who may or may not be the recipient of information about a student it is important for occupational therapy practitioners to consider such factors as who needs to know what information is being requested and what does the contract between the fieldwork site and educational facility include; and whether or not the fieldwork site and educational facility are part of the same organizational system.

Information subject to the Buckley amendment is:
Personal problems,
Health records,
Disability information,
Performance on a previous fieldwork,
Letters of reference. “(p. 73)

“The degree to which the supervisor needs particular information must always be judged relative to the type and scope of difficulties a fieldwork student is having. This is based on the objective performance standards of the facility and the subjective personality mix of the supervisor and student.� (p. 74)

*Reprinted with permission of AOTA from the Guide to Fieldwork Education, Commission on Education, American Occupational Therapy Association, 1995

The following form represents agreement that Xavier University’s Department of Occupational Therapy and the clinical fieldwork site have collaborated on objectives for the level two fieldwork experience.