As an instructor in rehabilitation sciences and the academic coordinator of fieldwork education at Temple’s occupational therapy program, Sheila Moyle places more than 80 students at nearly 350 fieldwork sites each year. She also is part of the team designing the program’s innovative new fieldwork requirements.
You joined the faculty in 2014. What’s it like to be one of the younger faculty members?
I was new to academia when I came on board. Some of the faculty members, like Roger Ideishi, Kim Gargin, and Rochelle Mendonca, had been my professors at University of the Sciences. I was familiar their teaching styles and teaching philosophy, so I knew it was a good fit.
You handle all the occupational therapy fieldwork assignments. How does student fieldwork impact students and the community?
For students, it’s really where theory and clinical skills they learned in the classroom meets practice. Students learn to become entry-level clinicians at the end of their Level II fieldwork placements. We are also expanding our Level I fieldwork in our new curriculum to include community settings that do not have OT services. Students become familiar with the needs and stakeholders of community-based sites and link how OT can impact these communities.
Where do Temple OTs get their fieldwork experience?
We try to make sure students get well-rounded fieldwork experiences. Temple OTs are placed in a variety of settings – acute, skilled, nursing, schools, home care, community-based practice, rehabilitation. Our Level I placements generally stay in Philadelphia or within the tri-state area. For Level II fieldwork our OTs have gone all over the United States. I’ve had students go to California and Colorado; we’re working on an international fieldwork placement through a collaboration with the Physical Therapy Department, which sends students to Guatemala every August.
What feedback do you get from the clinical sites about Temple OT students?
It’s very positive. They're excited to have our students. There are a lot of alumni out there who express interest in taking our students for fieldwork because they want to give back to the program that helped them become who they are now. It really comes full circle.
What’s unique about the Temple OT program?
It’s very diverse – in the student cohort, in the faculty, and in terms of community involvement and research agendas. Our students come from all different backgrounds and undergraduate majors. Our faculty are involved in programs you would never think OT would be a part of – everything from as the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts to the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA). We also collaborate with homeless shelters, schools, and mental health settings. It’s interesting to see how that diversity contributes to the program and to the profession. You get a sense that with an OT degree you can go anywhere and really make a difference in people’s lives.
What’s unique about Temple's impact on the community?
We have students involved in organizations and sites all over the city. Some of our Level I fieldwork students go out to sites that don’t have OT services to do assessments, develop a program, and then eventually do clinical work. So we’re identifying and filling needs in the community. We’re also in places like SEPTA, teaching kids with special needs and older adults to use the trains and buses. The SEPTA program alone does so much to help people engage in meaningful daily activities. It’s a perfect example of occupational therapy in action.
What’s your advice to current or future Temple OT students?
Remember the road you took going through OT school, and be ready to give back, to keep practicing, learning, and teaching. So many OTs volunteer their time to supervise students, and it’s a great way to give back and keep up on your skills. As a clinician you can get caught up in the day-to-day grind and lose touch with evidence-based practice. Having a student can keep you up to date and current in evidence-based practice and research.
What do you love about your job?
I love what I do. Some people use the fieldwork coordinator position as a stepping stone, but I actually want to stay right here. I am happy here. It can be challenging at times but rewarding as well—it’s really a juggling act. But I really do enjoy it, and I’m glad I can fill this need.