Qualitative research methodology was used to explore the purpose of level I fieldwork among occupational therapy students, clinical educators, and faculty respondents at one academic program. Differences in purposes among the three groups of respondents created different fieldwork expectations and outcomes. These differences underlined the importance of communication among students, clinical supervisors, and faculty in planning fieldwork to meet the needs of all three groups. Interpersonal skills, rather than academic skills, emerged as most important to student success in clinical education. Other factors that promote optimal level I fieldwork experience are understanding the purpose, level of commitment, clarity of expectations, timing, structure, and evaluation of the experience.

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