Doctoral Capstone: Frequently Asked Questions

WHO DOES A SITE MENTOR TALK TO ABOUT MAKING ARRANGEMENTS TO MENTOR A CAPSTONE STUDENT? 

Please contact the WMU OT capstone coordinator, Holly Grieves, at holly.grieves@wmich.edu to make arrangements to mentor an OTD student. 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HOSTING A DOCTORAL CAPSTONE STUDENT?

There are numerous benefits for hosting a doctoral capstone student. A few of the benefits include scholarly collaboration including access to university resources (IRB, databases, outcome measures, etc.) and potential publication opportunities. Program development “products” including clinical guidelines, patient education materials, evidence-based practice resources. Doctoral capstone student hosts are provided with the opportunity to develop a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship and will earn PDUs for their service.

HOW MANY HOURS ARE REQUIRED FOR THE CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE? 

The Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) requires the length of the doctoral capstone experience to be a minimum of 14 weeks (560 hours). No more than 20% of the 560 hours can be completed off site from the mentored practice setting(s), to ensure a concentrated experience in the designated area of interest. Time spent off site may include independent study activities such as research and writing (ACOTE Standard D.1.5).

WHEN DO STUDENTS COMPLETE THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE DURING WMU’S ACADEMIC PROGRAM?

Students will collaborate with the capstone coordinator, faculty advisor and site mentor throughout the curriculum to prepare for the doctoral capstone (ACOTE Standard D.1.2). By the beginning of the Summer II semester of the second year, the capstone coordinator will match the student to a faculty advisor based on student’s selection of concentration area and topic as well as areas and faculty advisor’s expertise and workload availability. During Fall semester of the second year, the capstone coordinator, faculty advisor and student will work together to coordinate a match with a site mentor. The students’ doctoral capstone preparation course will take place in Summer I semester following the match, and the capstone experience/project takes place during the following Spring semester, in the third year.

Year:

YEAR I  YEAR II

YEAR III

Semester:

Summer II 

Spring Summer I Fall

Spring

With guidance from capstone coordinator, student will:

Orient to Capstone Program 

Match with Faculty Advisor 

Complete OT 7201 - Capstone Prep Course (2 credits)

Finalize and sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Complete OT 7202 - Capstone Experience (6 credits)

 

----Match with Site Mentor----

     

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?

Students are required to submit evidence of a physical assessment, immunizations record, criminal background check, drug screen, TB test, flu shot, HIPAA training and CPR certification and other site-specific documents as requested. Additional requirements may be necessary for doctoral capstones taking place internationally.

WHAT ARE THE TRACKS A STUDENT CAN PURSUE FOR THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE? 

Students will pursue one of the following tracks for their doctoral capstone experience/project: Clinical practice skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, theory development 

HOW DOES A FIELDWORK EXPERIENCE DIFFER FROM A DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?

  Fieldwork: Doctoral Capstone (Experience/Project):
Supervisor term used Fieldwork Educator Site Mentor
Discipline Required to be an OT Can be an OT, but not required
Duration Two full-time 12-week experiences One 14 week (560 hour) minimum experience
Location 100% on-site 80% onsite, 20% allowed off-site
Objective Entry-level practitioner  Acquire in-depth knowledge in a focused concentration area
When After coursework is complete After fieldwork is complete 
Evaluation Tool AOTA FWPE No standardized evaluation tool, however, WMU has developed a customized evaluation tool. 
NBCOT PDUs offered  One PDU per week of supervision One PDU for every two hours spent mentoring, up to a maximum of 18 PDU per renewal period 

 WHAT IS WMU’S ATTENDANCE POLICY FOR THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE? 

The site mentor, capstone coordinator and student will collaborate to decide how time will be used during the capstone experience. The student is responsible to track and provide verification of the time usage during the placement using a log. ACOTE Standard D.1.5 states that “no more than 20% of the 560 hours can be completed off site from the mentored practice setting(s), to ensure a concentrated experience in the designated area of interest.” 

DOES THE SITE MENTOR NEED TO BE ON-SITE ALL OF THE TIME AND/OR EVERY DAY? 

The student is expected to complete a minimum of 80% (448 hours) on-site under the supervision of the site mentor. The role of the site mentor is to guide the student in the development and implementation of the capstone project proposal, implementation and dissemination. Specific plans for supervision including intensity (direct vs. indirect), frequency and method of interaction will be established between the site mentor and student prior to the start of the doctoral capstone experience.  

CAN A SITE MENTOR EARN CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDIT FOR TAKING A DOCTORAL CAPSTONE STUDENT? 

Yes. Site mentors who are OTs can earn one PDU for every two hours spent mentoring, up to a maximum of 18 PDU per NBCOT renewal period. A certificate verifying hours spent mentoring will be provided upon completion of the student’s doctoral capstone.

HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DOES ONE NEED TO BECOME A SITE MENTOR FOR THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?  

The site mentor must have documented expertise consistent with the student’s area of focus prior to the onset of the doctoral capstone experience, however, the site mentor does not have to be an occupational therapist (ACOTE D.1.6). 

CAN A STUDENT HAVE MULTIPLE SITE MENTORS AT ONE LOCATION? 

Yes. A student can have multiple site mentors at one location. The site mentors will collaborate with the capstone coordinator to develop the best plan for split supervision.  

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU THINK A STUDENT IS AT RISK FOR NOT COMPLETING THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE? 

The first step is for the site mentor to notify the student that he/she is at risk of not successfully completing their capstone experience/project. Then the site should let the student know that the site will now notify the capstone coordinator and encourage the student to contact the capstone coordinator as well. One of the roles of the capstone coordinator is to serve as a mediator between student and site mentor concerns. The capstone coordinator can provide the site and student with a different perspective, can advise on possible solutions, and can guide all parties through the necessary next steps. 

HOW MANY TIMES CAN A STUDENT FAIL THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE? 

Each academic program establishes their own policy on doctoral capstone failure. WMU allows students to receive “no credit” grade on one capstone experience. If a student receives a “no credit” for a second capstone experience, they are dismissed from the OT academic program. Please refer to the WMU remediation and dismissal policy.

DOES THE ACADEMIC PROGRAM HAVE TO TELL THE SITE MENTOR THAT THE STUDENT HAS A DISABILITY?

The academic program is not required to inform the site mentor of a student's disability without the student's permission. It is the student's decision whether or not to disclose a disability. The capstone coordinator will counsel students on the pros and cons of sharing this type of information prior to beginning fieldwork. If a student decides not to disclose, the capstone coordinator is legally not allowed to share that information with the site, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws.

 A site mentor cannot refuse to place a student with a disability unless that student is unable to perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodations. To refuse placement solely on the student's disability is discriminatory and illegal.

CAN A STUDENT COMPLETE THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE INTERNATIONALLY? 

Yes, students will have the option to complete their students internationally. Additional requirements and documentation will likely be necessary.

CAN A STUDENT JOB SHADOW AT THE SITE WHERE THEY WOULD LIKE TO COMPLETE THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?

We strongly advise against requesting a job shadow at a potential capstone site due to the overwhelming amount of job shadow requests received by many facilities.

WHAT IS A PASSING GRADE FOR THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?

Students will earn a credit/no credit grade for the doctoral capstone. This grade is determined based upon a student’s score on the capstone evaluation tool which is provided by your site mentor and faculty advisor. Scores are determined as satisfactory or unsatisfactory at halfway or midterm point of fieldwork (six weeks). Final evaluation scores are provided near the end of 12 weeks. This score indicates whether a student has passed or not passed their doctoral capstone.