If you are a nursing or medicine student, you are aware that you will come across or have already come across assignments requiring you to write a nursing reflection essay. At first, such a task always appears challenging, but given the understanding of the steps, things flat out, and you can write reflective essays and get better grades.
Reflective practice is highly encouraged in nursing. Reflection entails making sense of situations, events, actions, and phenomena in the workplace.
As a nursing student, you will be asked to write a reflective essay on your clinical placement, practicum, shadowing experience, shadow health DCE activities, personal nursing philosophy, why you want to become a nurse, nursing program, ethical dilemma, knowledge, skills, and abilities, systems, and processes.
The easiest way to complete the reflective essay assignment is by first determining what reflective writing entails, its significance, its steps, and some of the best tips that form the core of this ultimate guide.
Reflective writing is an analytical writing practice where the writer describes a real or imaginary event, scene, phenomenon, occurrence, or memory, including their takeaway. It entails the critical analysis of an experience, including recording how it has impacted you and what you intend to do with the new knowledge or how to act when such an occurrence recurs.
As you document the encounter, you can use first-person pronouns and write subjectively and objectively. This means that you can decide to either use personal experiences alone or support these experiences using citations from scholarly sources.
When writing a reflective essay in nursing, you must recount the events and give critical detail of how the events shaped your knowledge acquisition. Reflection helps nursing students develop skills in self-directed learning, which is directly associated with high motivation and improved quality of care.
In most cases, reflection occurs on what went well and what went wrong. It could be a successful operation, a thank you note from a patient, a patient who regained their health faster, or a new nursing care plan that worked. However, it can also be about adverse events such as death, postoperative complications, death of an infant at birth, dissatisfied patient, medical error, or a failed procedure.
As a nursing student, when you learn to reflect on situations, you grow to become a professional nurse who diligently does their noble duty.
When writing a reflective essay, you begin by setting the scene (explaining what, where, how, and who-the situation), detailing how you felt (emotional state), why it happened (making sense of the situation), critical review and development of insights, a note on what was learned, and strategies to address future recurrence.
As you will notice later, these reflective stages are structured into different reflective models and frameworks that we will explore in-depth. So, with the understanding of what comprises reflective writing and its importance in nursing, let's now get solid on the structure.
A reflective essay is an analytical writing piece describing and evaluating encounters or experiences. When asked to write one, you should know that an excellent reflective essay consists of different parts, just like a typical academic essay. It comprises the cover or title page, introduction, body paragraphs, conclusions, and a references page.
The title page contains information about the assignment. If you are writing the reflective essay in APA, include these on the title page:
When writing in Harvard format, the title or the cover page will consist of the following:
The introduction begins with an attention grabber or a hook sentence to attract readers' attention. It should then explain the essay's purpose and signpost the ideas that will come later in the essay. The introduction also has a thesis statement at the end of the paragraph- the last sentence. The thesis is concise, clear, and relatable and should reflect your position.
The body paragraphs of a reflective essay can be three or more, depending on the length of the essay. Essentially, the body comprises 80% of the total word count.
The first paragraph is where you describe the situation, including the events, why they occurred, how they occurred, and those involved.
The second paragraph entails your personal feelings or reaction to the situation and how it made you feel.
The third paragraph can include making sense of the situation. You have to think about why things happened the way they did. You should also critically review and develop insights based on the situation. Finally, think of the factors that could have influenced the situation.
The next paragraph should explain how the event or situation will change your practice, approach, decisions, perspective, or perception. This is where you evaluate the experience by detailing the knowledge and skills you took from the experience.
The last body paragraph should entail a critical reflection on the learning opportunities. First, you need to describe the situation and what it made you learn. Next, elaborate on how you intend to make yourself better poised to address such situations.
After everything else falls into place, you need to summarize the information you presented in the essay. Then, finally, restate your thesis and have a call to action to bring a sense of closure to your readers.
When assigned to write a reflective essay for your nursing class, here are the surefire steps to get you to success.
The first step after receiving an assignment is to begin reading the instructions. as you read, take note of what your instructor or professor expects in the paper you will submit for marking.
Reading instructions helps you to get informed on the scope of the paper, word count, number of references and pages, and the formatting style to use.
Besides you also get to plan your paper with the deadline highlighted in the instructions.
You need to get a conducive environment where you can start writing. The first step of writing is to brainstorm about situations that occurred during your clinical hours when you were shadowing a Nurse Practitioner or one that you have read about. Assess whether the situation or scenario you have thought, encountered, or chosen can help you write a reflective essay that meets the requirements.
After choosing a scenario, the next step is researching the best reflective model. You can use your class text, the instructions, the college library, course readings, and online nursing journals to get articles and resources with information about specific reflective models. Select the best reflective model and take notes on the steps it entails. As you research, write down notes on how to address your paper based on the framework or model of reflection you have selected. Additionally, research nursing journal articles with information you can use when critically analyzing a situation. Plan how you will handle the paper as well. For instance, as you research, develop a thesis statement that grounds your entire paper, then draft an outline on how to develop the thesis.
Outlining is a crucial aspect of writing. It helps you envision how you will meet the objective of writing a reflective essay. as an essential part of the essay writing process, outlining helps create a good flow of ideas and can come in handy in helping you overcome writer's block. Your outline should comprise of:
With the outline done, you should take a break and resume writing your first draft of the nursing reflection essay. Writing with an outline helps avoid mistakes and also to write faster.
After doing your first draft, take a break to relax and get off the writing mood � it helps you to become objective. You can then resume reading out loud to yourself, make necessary tweaks, and ensure that every part you include meets the rubric requirements. Edit for grammar, punctuation, tenses, voice, spelling, and use of language. You should also proofread the essay to ensure that you have adhered to the style, organization, and presentation requirements. Ensure that all the in-text citations are accounted for in the reference list and are up-to-date. You are good to go when you have an essay that meets all the instructions. Finally, you can submit the paper for grading.
Writing is not everyone's cup of tea. For that reason, you can hire a nursing reflection essay writer from our website to assist you in crafting a top-grade paper. In addition, we have nursing writers whose forte is writing various nursing papers.
As you undertake your nursing studies, you must reflect on your experiences, encounters, and practice in the workplace or the entire course. And for this, you will be required to use various reflective models. Models of reflection help you to systematically organize and critically reflect on your practice as a nursing student and are meant to guide your decision-making process. In addition, you will find them helpful in your personal and professional life as a nurse practitioner. Below we explore some of the most common reflective models in this guide to help you understand the different approaches to writing reflection essays. In addition, we offer such services if you need professional assistance writing your reflective essay. Check out our services section. But first, get solid with the specific reflective model, framework, or tool to adopt for your nursing reflective essay.
The Gibbs' reflective cycle was developed by Graham Gibbs in 1988 to structure learning from experiences. Gibb's model is a cyclic process that allows a person to examine their experiences repeatedly to learn and plan from what went right and wrong.
The famous cyclical model of reflection has six stages that explore an experience: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, and action plan. Let's look at each separately in brief.
According to John Dewey, reflective thinking is an active, persistent, and careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge of the grounds that support that knowledge and further conclusions to which the knowledge leads. He believed that through active, reflective thinking, learners can assess what they know, what they need to know, and how to bridge the knowledge gap.
Dewey's reflective thinking model has been a foundation for many models that are used today. Below are the steps for reflective thinking as per the model:
David Kolb introduced the four-step Kolb's learning cycle, an approach to reflection.
It is slightly different because it sites reflection as part of a wider set of processes where a learner (nurse student, nurse educator, nurse leader, or nurse practitioner) is on a journey of discovery to understand their working processes as they undertake different stages of engagement with events, occurrences, or training sessions. It is an experiential model of reflection that assigns higher value to the role of experience in learning.
Kolb's cycle has four stages: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.
Atkins and Murphy's reflection model was developed in 1993 specifically for nursing practice. The model is based on the premise that nurses face various challenging situations. Further, the model is based on the idea that people find it challenging to think about their uncomfortable experiences but can reflect on such events and find insights when faced with similar situations in the future. Finally, it is also a circular model that has 5 stages:
You can write your reflective essay using the CARL framework for reflection, which entails four steps:
You can also select the 5R framework when writing your nursing reflection essay. The steps entail five stages that address each aspect of your reflective process. When you systematically go through the stages, you can reflect on an experience or encounter and report the knowledge gained.
The Driscoll model of reflection entails three questions whose answers drive the reflective process in nursing. The questions are:
These three stem questions are connected to stages of experience learning cycles and have trigger questions that one answers to complete the reflection cycle. The model was developed by John Driscoll in 1994, 2000, and 2007. Answering the three questions enables an individual to analyze experiences and learn from them.
In Step 1 (What?), you must recall and objectively describe what happened in plain and simple terms. You don't have to engage in any criticism yet. Next, you provide the context of the event or experience. The trigger questions for this step include:
In Step 2 (So What?), you need to look for patterns of meaningful moments. Here, you undertake a structured reflection. Some of the guiding questions for the second step include:
In Step 3 (now what?), you need to complete your structured reflection by noting what you have learned and how that will help you in future and in other contexts. You must demonstrate knowledge transfer.
Some of the questions to trigger this step include:
This reflective framework is straightforward. You can use it to reflect on your leadership experiences, ethics class, MSN, BSN, DNP program, NCLEX examination, etc.
Another critical framework for reflexive practice in nursing is the Sch�n reflective model. The model was developed by Donald Sch�n, explaining how professionals can solve problems through reflection in action and reflection on action.
Reflecting in action means experiencing, thinking on your feet, thinking of what to do next, and acting straight away.
On the other hand, reflecting on action means thinking about something that has happened, thinking of what you would do differently next time it happens, and taking your time.
So, the model entails reflection during and after the event or experience. For example, if you are in a class, you might notice that you are distracted by thoughts of a weekend camping trip. Although you want to get the most out of the class session, you can only do so by finding a way to focus. You finally decide to take notes as your instructor teaches. This entire process is a reflection in action.
After the lecture, you notice that you cannot remember what was covered, so the most appropriate thing you do is to find the topic in advance, write questions you need answers and clarifications on, make notes during the lecture to maintain focus, arrange for a consultative meeting with the lecturer and talk to your peers about what was taught to help you form your opinions. You then file the notes and handouts. The second step is reflecting on the action.
Schon believes that professionals must think about what they are doing while at it, stressing that leaders should use their past experiences to address new conditions or scenarios.
Rolfe's reflective cycle is much similar to the Driscoll model of reflection. It is also based on 3 questions: what? So what? Now what?
The first step entails describing the event and defining your self-awareness of the issue. The second step of the Rolfe cycle analyzes the situation and evaluates the circumstances or issues being addressed. Finally, the last step entails a comprehensive synthesis of information and insights from the two steps so that you acknowledge learning and knowledge transfer in readiness for future occurrences of the same event.
Find out more about Rolfe's reflective model; an example includes (link to external website)
As you can see above, many reflective models for your reflective essay are used. We have not exhaustively listed and expounded on all of them. Other reflective models and frameworks you can also consider when writing a reflective essay in nursing include:
Note that most nursing instructors will often suggest the models they prefer for you to use in your essay. For example, in most nursing reflective essays. Whichever the case, there is readily available information expanding on each model to make it easier for you to write a reflection essay on a specific aspect of nursing education or practice. Read the assignment rubric and instructions to understand the specific model. If it is unclear, ask for clarification from your instructor early enough.
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