Role-emerging placements are where the student is placed within an organisation, or an area of service, where there is currently no occupational therapist employed. When two or more students work together on a role emerging placement feedback suggests they feel more supported.

Benefits of Role Emerging Placements
  • Establishes input of occupational therapy services for a defined period of time
  • Meets a recognised need within the service for occupational therapy provision
  • Provides students with skills in promoting the role of occupational therapy within an organisation
  • Allows for piloting or development of specified occupational therapy service within an organisation
  • May involve multiple projects rather than one main project
  • Students learn team working and communication skills by working directly with non occupational therapy staff
  • Students gain clinical skills through direct client contact
Main Focus

The main focus of the placement may be the development of occupational therapy services such as assessment, interventions, group programs, or the education of staff on specific techniques to assist clients.


An on-site supervisor who is not an occupational therapist would be available to supervise the student for day to day needs. The supervising occupational therapist would provide support, advice and assistance in guiding the student to focus on the occupational therapy role and develop that role within the organisation. Liaison between the on-site supervisor and the supervising occupational therapist is essential for the success of the role-emerging placement.

Tips for developing a role-emerging placement
  • Contact the university fieldwork team to discuss any identified needs for potential occupational therapy input within a familiar host organisation, or encourage the host organisation to contact the university fieldwork team. (You may already have limited services in place with that organisation but could see the benefit of having more intensive input from an occupational therapy student under your guidance - community centres or SEDU's/ SEU's / Special Schools, for example).
  • Discuss with the organisation's manager the potential role for occupational therapy within that organisation and ensure they are also enthusiastic for the services that a student could provide, given that placements are only for defined time periods.
  • With the on-site supervisor, discuss with the student the potential for occupational therapy services in the first few days of placement, and encourage the student to be active in this discussion after some time to absorb the focus and purpose of the organisation.
  • Determine timeframes for the placement, any projects that are to be completed, as well as appropriate times for supervision throughout the placement with both the student and the on-site supervisor.
  • Discuss learning opportunities and expectations of the student with both the student and the on-site supervisor to keep communication open and clear.
  • Liaise regularly with the on-site supervisor about student progress and professional behaviour so that their input is included when engaging in supervision sessions with the student, and when evaluating student performance.
  • When possible, arrange to observe the student within the organisation, whether that may be while they are running a group session, interacting with clients, or giving a presentation to staff.

Encourage the student to explain and define the occupational therapy role to others within the organisation and to focus on the specific occupational therapy skills and knowledge that would be of benefit i.e. Where OT fits!