Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Can American OT students complete their Fieldwork I or II placements in Egypt?

Over the past few months, I have received several emails from students in the US who were interested in completing their Fieldwork II placement in Egypt, so I would like to address this topic.

International OT Student Fieldwork Placement:

Every international OT educational program has their own guidelines about what is required to fulfill the clinical experience section of their program for graduation. Every country may have a different name for this clinical experience, so whether you call it "fieldwork," "internship," "practicum" and/or "clinical" I am referring to this placement within the community.

I am only familiar with the US requirements, as that is where I completed my OT education at NYU (New York University).

Here are the requirements for OT Fieldwork experience in the US:

Fieldwork sites provide students with an opportunity to gain graded practical experience under the supervision of an occupational therapist in a variety of practice settings.

There are two types of OT Fieldwork experiences in the US:

Level I Fieldwork: "The goal of Level I Fieldwork is to introduce students to the fieldwork experience, and develop a basic comfort level with and understanding of the needs of clients. Level I fieldwork shall be integral to the program's curriculum design and include experiences designed to enrich didactic coursework through directed observation and participation in selected aspects of the occupational therapy process. The focus of these experiences is not intended to be independent performance. Qualified personnel for supervised Level I fieldwork include, but are not limited to, occupational therapy practitioners initially certified nationally, psychologists, physician assistants, teachers, social workers, nurses, and physical therapists. "

Level II Fieldwork
(24 weeks/6 months minimum) "The goal of Level II fieldwork is to develop competent, entry-level, generalist occupational therapists. Level II fieldwork shall be integral to the program's curriculum design and shall include an in-depth experience in delivering occupational therapy services to clients, focusing on the application of purposeful and meaningful occupation and/or research, administration and management of occupational therapy services. It is recommended that the student be exposed to a variety of clients across the life span and to a variety of settings. The fieldwork experience shall be designed to promote clinical reasoning and reflective practice; to transmit the values and beliefs that enable ethical practice; and to develop professionalism and competence as career responsibilities. The intern is expected to have entry-level competence upon completion of the Level II fieldwork assignment."

These standards for an OT Program in the US can be downloaded from the American OT Association website at :


(When I am referring to what is "feasible", I will be referring to my job as Head of the OT Department at the Learning Resource Center (LRC) in Cairo).

Fieldwork I in Egypt: It is much more feasible to be able to provide Fieldwork I level students a placement at the LRC. If a student would like to visit for a week at the LRC and also observe a few other professional services (i.e. psychologists, physical therapists, speech therapists etc.), then this can be arranged if provided advance notice.

Fieldwork II in Egypt: It is not feasible to provide Fieldwork II level students placements at the LRC, at this time. I have also spoken with a few other OT's who work in Cairo and they also agree on this topic in regards to placements at their facilities. This is mainly due to the ever changing number of OT's living and working in Egypt. Since few OT's live here "permanently," it is very difficult to plan a year in advance for a fieldwork student program. The few OT's working here are usually very busy with their own caseload, as well as, very busy working to train Egyptians to assist in some of our OT sessions. There is a need for training Egyptians to support OT sessions in Arabic, but only under the supervision of an internationally trained OT. At this time, it is too difficult to provide the level of teaching and supervision needed for a 3 month placement at the LRC.

The American OT Association has a wonderful section on their website which provides information about what it is like to be an OT student (http://www.aota.org/Students.aspx)

This is a wonderful resource for Egyptians who are thinking about attending future OT educational programs in Egypt.

Here are a few specific links on this site for fieldwork experiences:

Student Volunteers:

There is always a need for volunteers, so if students would like to set up a trip to Egypt speak to your OT program professors and plan a trip to Cairo. I would be happy to provide contacts of facilities to visit on your trip.



Anna said...

Laura, I am so glad you have this blog!! I am an OT working mainly in mental health and geriatrics but also have an interest in pediatrics. My husband will be in Egypt the entore summer of 2009 and I am hoping to visit him for a week or two towards the end of the summer (around the first week in Auugust). I would love to work on getting some resources together from some organizations here in the States to bring over and would love to see the work you do while I am there. Please feel free to email me at otanna@gmail.com and let me know the best way to reach you. Thanks for your work!

Laura Efinger said...

HI Anna,

I do not know my summer travel plans at this time, but we should keep in touch. If not me then perhaps you can meet up with some other OT's working in Cairo.

We always appreciate OT supplies. The ADVANCE Society for Children with Special Needs would welcome donated OT supplies for children.

If you need further information, please let me know....