Using cellphones for work placement support

11 May 2007

Successful completion of fieldwork placements is an important part of undergraduate health based professions, given that fieldwork provides students not only with the opportunities to learn in the ‘real world’ but also to develop the knowledge and skills for contemporary practice. This article outlines the process of a trial undertaken, at the School of Occupational Therapy, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand, in which, in collaboration with a telecommunications company, students went on two different fieldwork placements with cellphones. The article describes the use to which the cellphones were put and examines the effectiveness of cellphones as a medium for seeking support. While students valued the cellphones, technological issues, along with a lack of certain functions, led to the Fieldwork Team’s decision to discontinue the funding of free cellphones for use on placement. Insights into what students are seeking and when, in relation to emotional support are presented, along with areas to consider for future research.

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