BACKGROUND: There has been a significant increase in the number of occupational and physical therapy students going on international fieldwork placements in low-income countries. Yet, there has been a lack of research describing this experience from the agencies that host students.
METHODS: Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants from five affiliated international fieldwork sites. Six semi-structured interviews exploring the perspectives of individuals from agency sites in low-income countries facilitated the data collection. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim for thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Four themes provided insight into the participants' experience of hosting student therapists. Participants emphasised: (i) there was a reciprocity of learning between agency members and students; (ii) they felt responsible for the health and safety of the students, as well as providing an enriching experience; (iii) participants questioned the preparation phase; and (iv) recommendations were made by participants to strengthen partnerships while contemplating sustainable practices.
CONCLUSIONS: This study highlighted that effective preparation, enhanced communication, reflection and reciprocity is necessary to achieve what hosting agencies view as sustainable international placements. These results provide a platform for stakeholders to question their current processes for fieldwork placement engagement and potential suggestions for improving current international fieldwork partnerships.
- global health
- international fieldwork
- occupational therapy
- physical therapy
- qualitative research