If you’re in your level II fieldwork, you will likely have to come up with an in-service idea which is a presentation or project you’re responsible for at the end of the semester. Deciding on an in-service idea for your OT fieldwork can be a daunting challenge.

Fieldwork flies by whether you’e a student or clinical instructor, and before you know it, fieldwork is almost over and you need to come up with an idea ASAP!

As a clinical instructor (CI), your responsibility is to help the student come up with ideas that could benefit your setting. If you can’t think of something your clinic needs, it’s OK to have your student come up with some ideas themselves first. Having your student pick a topic may be an opportunity to open your clinic up to fresh ideas and research in the field you may not have otherwise come across.

If you are a student, I wholeheartedly recommend choosing a topic or project that you’re interested in and that you think will provide value to the therapists in your setting. You can also take note of what your clinic needs in terms of intervention ideas or items and make or present on something based on that need.

If you’re still drawing a blank, this post will help get your brainstorm going with popular OT in-service ideas. Please note that these are all tailored to the adult and geriatric rehab settings. If you’re looking for pediatric in-service ideas, Pinterest has a plethora of ideas for you as well.


Present on Current Research Relating to Common Diagnoses Seen in Your Setting

As I briefly mentioned above, when therapists have been treating for a while, it can be hard to keep up to date on the latest in research. Fieldwork student in-services are great ways to present current information to all practitioners, especially since students have the latest information from their schools.

One example could be Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy when treating stroke patients. This topic is near and dear to my heart (thesis throwback), so I had to add it in. Presenting on CIMT is a great topic if you work with stroke patients, from acute care to outpatient. This method is a very effective treatment for the affected upper extremity after stroke when appropriate. As some clinicians may not be aware of how constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) or modified CIMT works, it’s a great way to educate yourself as well as fellow occupational therapy practitioners in your clinic if you’re treating stroke patients.

Present on an Interesting Case Study That You Saw While In Fieldwork

Another common theme for in-services is to present on an interesting patient that you treated during your rotation. You could choose a patient that you saw an uncommon diagnosis or used a new intervention with. Adding in current research to the case study is also a great way to further educate coworkers and fellow students.

Create a Binder of Patient Education Handouts

This project is super helpful for settings that don’t have easy to access handouts to give to patients. In my settings, I have to search for and print out patient handouts, so having a full binder of worksheets to copy would be such a time-saver. Here are just some of the topics my coworkers and I came up with:

  • Diabetes education
  • Renal failure education
  • Congestive heart failure education
  • Stroke prevention
  • Energy conservation techniques
  • Specific orthopedic precaution handouts with images
  • Tailored home exercise program
  • Home safety after discharge
  • Caregiver education for transfer techniques
  • Health promotion for the most commonly seen diagnoses in your setting

The list could go on and on for this one! I would recommend writing a big “ORIGINAL” in yellow highlighter on each sheet so coworkers don’t take the originals without replacing them with copies.

Present on Functional Cognition Interventions

Presenting on interventions that address cognition functionally is a great topic since many of us in the field could use a refresher ourselves. Bonus points for students who create a clinic toolkit full of helpful worksheets to go along with their staff education. This one will take some research but I can assure you it will definitely be a useful topic.

Educate on Sensory Integration in the Dementia Population

If you’re working in a geriatrics setting, presenting on sensory integration with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is a great way to educate other therapists who may not be as familiar with this. Here is some sensory integration information from Alzheimers.net to get you started.

Presenting on Low Vision Strategies

Along with many of these other topics, seasoned as well as new OTs can benefit from education and adaptations regarding low vision in any setting. For more about low vision with regards to occupational therapy, check out AOTA’s Low Vision information.

Make a Playing Card Velcro Board

Many facilities I’ve worked in have a playing card velcro board as a past in-service project since it addresses so many factors. It’s great for visual scanning, standing tolerance, fine motor/gross motor coordination, attention, range of motion, reaching, and balance. The board will have each card attached with velcro so the patient can match/attach the corresponding card.

Image via Pinterest, original source unknown

Create an ADL Vest

If your setting doesn’t already have one, making an ADL vest is a great functional intervention for patients with decreased fine motor coordination and can be easily utilized in the gym. Adding snaps, small and large buttons, zippers, even bra clasps is a great way to work on dressing for any patient with difficulty managing this aspect of dressing.

Dressing Vest with zipper buttons velcro and snaps by HomeGrownOT, $50.00:

Vest image via HomeGrownOT Etsy shop

Put Together a Folder of Quick Standardized Assessments for Acute Care

Many settings have their own assessments for use, but in acute care, it can be a challenge to find a quick and easy assessment. If you’re in acute care, creating a binder of free and quick (think 10-15 minutes) assessments to use for aspects such as self-care, cognition, activity tolerance, balance, or fine motor coordination would be super valuable to any clinicians in that setting.

Make a Medication Management Toolkit

Medication management is an important I-ADL to address for patients who will be going home and may be managing their own medications, especially if they have difficulties with high level cognitive tasks.

I learned how important it was to address this before going home and make an effort to address this with any patient with even a mild cognition impairment who will be doing this themselves when going home. The kit is also great for a fine motor coordination intervention.

For full detailed instructions on how to make your own medication management kit, check out this post from Carbon Creations. It will definitely be a valuable addition to the setting.

Image via Carbon Creations

Make a Groceries Galore Kit

I created a Groceries Galore kit for one of my in-service projects when I was a student, and it is super easy to make. Simply collect and rinse out various grocery containers of all shapes and sizes, with difficult lids and easier lids. You can add small Scrabble pieces, pennies, beads, etc. for an extra fine motor component.

Add your own price stickers to each container to grade it up for cognition. I also really like to have patients place the containers in high and low areas of our kitchen area for item retrieval, gross motor coordination, range of motion, and standing tolerance as an occupation-based activity.

Put Together a Mirror Box

If you’re in a setting with stroke patients or complex regional pain patients, creating a mirror box is a really neat and helpful addition to the clinic. Here is a quick YouTube video on how to create and use a mirror box. Be sure to include printed instructions on how to use it as well as evidence supporting its use for future staff members.

Creating Laminated Lab Value Cards

I saw this idea in one of the OT Facebook groups and thought it was a great. Facilities may already have printed out lab value sheets, but making small, pocket-sized laminated cards would be a great value to you as a student or new grad.

If the expenses aren’t too high, you could earn bonus points from your CI and coworkers by printing out several to hand out for therapists or fellow students that may still need a quick reference.


The List Really Is Endless!

This list is definitely just a starting point. There are so many other ideas you or your fieldwork student can present on. If you’re still lost for ideas, asking coworkers for clinic needs or important topics is another great way to get valuable in-service ideas.

I’d love to hear your previous in-service topics and favorite ideas as well! What else would you add to the list? Please share in the comments below!

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  • Andrea October 31, 2018   Reply →

    I’m currently in acute setting for my FW 2B. Having a hard time with ideas for my inservice. I love to be creative and bring different things but I’m having a hard time!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L November 2, 2018   Reply →

      For acute care, you could see if your specific setting has a need for certain patient education handouts on diagnoses, precautions, etc, or lab values sheets for therapists. You could also present on an interesting diagnosis that you’ve seen. Your CI and other therapists at your site will know what they might need, so ask around for ideas! That usually never fails 🙂 Good luck!

  • Ben Hueftle January 6, 2019   Reply →

    These are super helpful! They’ll come in handy as I finish up my first level II fieldwork in a couple weeks. I always wonder about balancing what I think would be really great to have in a particular setting (in this case, a SNF) and what they (the OTs and OTAs there) are actually going to use. For example the grocery kit idea looks great (and I’d definitely want to use it) but kitchen-based interventions where I’m at tend to be rare. I suppose it’s a matter of collaborating with OTAs and OT about what kind of stuff you could bring that would be useful to the facility.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L January 9, 2019   Reply →

      I’m so glad these are helpful for you! Yes definitely check with the therapists and see what they might be lacking; that could give you an even better idea of what they could use while also being educational for you to create. Good luck with the rest of your fieldwork and your in-service!

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