Another post today.....
I had received an email a while back from a student who wanted advice about the Level I Pediatrics Fieldwork experience. I wanted to wait to answer that because I wanted to finish the 10 weeks before I summed it up.
What I've learned is that every fieldwork site is different. Everyone in my class pretty much went to different places, some went to public schools, hospitals, outpatient clinics, etc. I was at a special services school. Also, everyone saw different ages. Some worked with babies, preschoolers, or elementary aged. I worked primarily with 14-21 year olds, although I got to observe younger children, also. Finally, all fieldwork clinical instructors have different expectations. Some people in my class did nothing but strictly observe, while others actually got to "treat" kids and run groups. Personally, my CI had pretty high expectations but I didn't get a lot of hands-on experience (although toward the end she did give me a few opportunities, which was awesome!). She challenged me from the very first day, and had me write pseudo-goals, progress notes, and threw a few A&P pop quiz questions at me. It was great that our personalities meshed well, and I felt comfortable pretty much instantly. Some people never got that comfortable. So basically, I can't tell anyone what their experience will be like. There are 20 people in my class, and we each had 20 entirely different experiences.
As to not be entirely useless in my advice-giving, here's some things to keep in mind...
Be open-minded about the experience. You'll hear this from your Fieldwork professor, but seriously... You won't know for certain if you DO or DO NOT want to work in a setting until you experience it firsthand. I had no intention of considering pediatrics post-graduation, but now I see that it is definitely something I can (and might want to!) do eventually. Okay I know some people swear they will never work with a certain population... but you still have to do fieldwork in pediatrics, adults, and geriatrics and possibly mental health. It's not a choice, so suck it up for 10 weeks and learn something.
Bring a notebook. I was SHOCKED when my fieldwork CI told me she's had students who didn't even write anything down during the day. If you have a photographic memory, good for you, but your fieldwork supervisor is going to think you're lazy. I didn't want to ask too many questions when my CI was treating, so I wrote down my Q's and asked her between patients or after treatment was over. Also, I'd write progress notes for some of the students as she was treating, and at the end of the day I'd ask her to read a few of them to see if I was on the right track or if I was missing vital info.
Be honest. Your CI won't think you're a horrible student because you don't know the answers to his/her questions. As a level I, you're there to learn, and your CI is there to teach you. Don't say you know something when you don't and never do something with a kid that you're not trained and comfortable with doing. With that in mind, you're also educated and have spent tons of money on courses and textbooks, so bring that knowledge with you so you have some solid questions to ask and interventions to suggest.
The first time your CI allows you to put your hands on your first "client", the feeling will be intense. You might have a minor heart attack for a second, but once it passes, the feeling is awesome! Enjoy the experience!