Training fieldwork educators across the states

Elderhaus/ Mindset fieldwork educators and students with Patty Stutz-Tanenbaum (far right)

“It is a lot of fun to support fieldwork educators’ commitment to students and the promotion of student identity and growth into the profession,” said Patty Stutz-Tanenbaum.

As the academic fieldwork coordinator in the Department of Occupational Therapy, Stutz-Tanenbaum’s desire to better support fieldwork educators began several years ago.  After advocating with the American Occupational Therapy Association for approximately 20 years to get a program developed, her desires finally became a reality.  Stutz-Tanenbaum now trains fieldwork educators through the AOTA Fieldwork Educator Certificate Program at annual workshops at Colorado State University and in states across the Midwest and western United States.

Stutz-Tanenbaum first became interested in fieldwork while completing her post-professional master’s degree and working as a Level I fieldwork coordinator at CSU. After graduation, Stutz-Tanenbaum accepted the permanent fieldwork coordinator position which she occupies today.

When a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association Commission on Education, Stutz-Tanenbaum helped draft a proposal for funding to begin a fieldwork educator certificate training program. Started as “Train the Trainer Institutes,” it evolved into the current AOTA Fieldwork Educator Certificate Program. Stutz-Tanenbaum and fieldwork educator, Carol Chop, have trained educators in Colorado as well California, Arizona, Wyoming, Nebraska, and North Dakota.

Provides new perspective

Stutz-Tanenbaum shared that the workshop provides attendees with a new perspective; they are both practitioner and educator, and their workplace is no longer just their practice setting but also an educational extension of the CSU-OT program. This change in perspective increases the value of being an educator and how they provide learning experiences during fieldwork.

As an important part of the curriculum, the educators receive supervision resources and practical learning resources that help them to provide optimal learning opportunities for students.  The workshop not only helps the educators understand the national requirements for fieldwork, but to go beyond these requirements to provide a quality educational experience.  Also, it provides educators with the adult learning models and theories surrounding fieldwork pedagogy enhancing their supervision skills.

One participant shared, “I am looking forward to sharing this information with my colleagues and motivated to take on our next students! I am excited that we can step up our program to the benefit of our students and future practitioners, molding them to be knowledgeable and confident in their practice!”

Stutz-Tanenbaum finds running the trainings personally rewarding.  “I always learn something from each workshop about practice settings and working with students,” said Stutz-Tanenbaum.  “In addition, it creates a community for fieldwork educators who get energized by being around other fieldwork educators.”

Recognized for innovation

In 2011 Stutz-Tanenbaum was recognized as a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association due in part to her innovation in fieldwork education and her work on the Fieldwork Educator Certificate Program.  To date she has helped train and support hundreds of fieldwork educators.

The next Fieldwork Educator Certificate Program at CSU will be held on September 29-30.  The workshop is open to any fieldwork educator and encompasses a two-day training culminating in an educator training certificate.  For further information please visit http://www.ot.chhs.colostate.edu/students/supervisors.aspx.