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Q&A: Level I Field Work Supervision

Question: I am expecting a Level 1 fieldwork student and I wanted to know from a licensing perspective what students can/can't do under my supervision. Are they able to participate in manual therapy with a licensed occupational therapist present and if so, are there any restrictions? I just want to understand all my responsibilities as the treating/responsible therapist.

Answer: As a first step, check state licensure regulations for any language related to what students can/cannot do and any supervision/co-signature requirements. Be aware that licensure regulations related to students are likely most applicable to Level II students who progress to independent treatment (with supervision) and documentation (with co-signature/oversight).

In addition, talk with the academic fieldwork coordinator for the student’s program to get guidance about expectations for Level I fieldwork. Level I fieldwork students are often or primarily in the setting for observation. They generally do not physically treat patients but can assist if an extra pair of hands is needed or the therapist wants to demonstrate something. These students are early in their occupational therapy training, and manual therapy is an advanced skill, not comprehensively taught in most OT programs. Therefore, I would not expect them to have the education or training to safely and effectively do any manual therapy, even under the eye of a supervisor (and Level I students should always be supervised—they do not, unlike Level II students—progress to carrying an independent caseload).

Click here for additional fieldwork resources, including those applicable to Level I students.