Time to Write a Reflective Essay?

Nursing essays assume numerous forms and purposes.

Nursing students therefore need to develop all the skills requisite for writing the respective types.

Notably, one category of such essays entails the reflection essays.

This is in line with the fact that reflection on clinical practice in nursing is a basic approach to learning and assessment in nursing school.

For this reason, a reflective essay for nursing student is one of the most common types of essays for scholars in all levels of nursing studies.

It is important to understand what reflection entails before you embark on writing a reflective essay.

What is Reflection in Nursing?

Generally, reflection can be viewed as:

A deliberate process characterized by careful thought and interpretation of an individual’s thoughts, recollections, actions, and events with the intention of appreciating them, learning from them, and instituting change if necessary.

When writing a reflective essay for nursing student,  steps to writing an essay come in handy.

This requires you to effectively appreciate the different approaches that could be adopted when writing a nursing reflective essay.

These approaches include:

1. Kolb’s model

2. Gibb’s reflective cycle

3. John’s structured reflection model

4. Borton’s reflective cycle

Features of a Reflective Essay for Nursing Student

Nursing reflective essays are defined by particular features that are characteristic of reflective thinking in nursing.

To ensure quality work, your reflective essay needs to exhibits all the respective features.

These features include:

1. Represent Enquiry

A nursing reflective essay has to represent a particular enquiry at its beginning. Note that reflective thinking in nursing demands scholarly and professional purpose.

Such purpose should be clear on why it warrants critical reflection.

Further, reflection on clinical practice in nursing should stipulate the context of the reflection.

This is realized through contextual reflection, where effective explanation of the purpose helps demonstrate the entailed context.

You can demonstrate the context by indicating the reason for reflecting on a particular patient or subject.

This plays an important role in setting the scene on how the reflection was done and is key to effective assessment of your observations.

2. Distinction between Facts, Perceptions, Perspectives, Discourses, and Narratives

Any reflective essay for nursing student should clearly distinguish among these terms.

This is essential in ensuring that your writing is precise and arguments are clear.

For instance, it is important to understand when perceptions turn into perspectives. Note perceptions are nursing reflection ideas that are impressionistic, transitory, and tentative.

Differently, such ideas can only turn into perspectives after successful testing and confirmation.

This distinction has to extend to the terms discourse versus narrative. Importantly, proper reflection on clinical practice in nursing requires you to use facts more carefully.

This is key in avoiding absolutist levels of writing.

3. Demonstrate Insight

This is another critical feature in a reflective essay for nursing student. It entails the discoveries made during encounters with others.

To illustrate insight in nursing reflection ideas, you need to recognize something new and attend to it inquisitively and professionally.

Accordingly, insight has to relate to the nurse student’s stage or level of training. The insight you seek to demonstrate should therefore be beyond the obvious things you are expected to know or understand.

You should seek to illustrate the significance of what you observed. Doing so would require that you substantiate your insights while avoiding assumptions.

Such insight should be based on questions on one’s ability to understand the entailed issues.

4. Respect Others

A good reflective essay for nursing student should convey respect for colleagues, patients, and patients’ relatives.

This is important in ensuring that your nursing reflection ideas are not unprofessional, unethical, and absolutist.

You must demonstrate your imagination on how the entailed ideas could be viewed by all the parties involved.

As such, the descriptive passages you include in the essay should convey appropriate attitude towards care situations.

Fundamentally, you must adhere to high standards of professionalism. You should therefore ensure that essays on reflection on clinical practice in nursing effectively consider important areas like confidentiality and informed consent.

5. Illustrate Learning

Lastly, a reflective essay for nursing student should constitute elements of deeper thought and higher reflection levels.

These elements should be characteristic in the flow of reflective thinking in nursing, from one paragraph to another.

Note that effective learning should be demonstrated through an audit trail of your reasoning in the essay as it progresses.

This requires you to as well deduce different things from observations made in the reflection process.

Accordingly, deductions should be expressed in a cautious manner, while noting caveats where necessary.

Further, you should indicate change in thinking and shift in perspectives as a sign of learning.

Steps of Writing a Reflective Essay for Nursing Student

Particular writing steps could be adopted to ensure that a reflective essay for nursing student exhibits all the requisite features. Such steps are usually defined by respective reflection models.

One such models entails the Gibb’s reflective cycle.

The steps of the Gibb’s reflective cycle model are as illustrated below.

Step 1: Description

This step requires you to describe the situation you want to reflect on in detail.

In this, reflective thinking in nursing demands that you provide background information, including details on what you are reflecting on and the persons involved.

Note that the information included in the description should be relevant and precise.

As such, you should work to clearly identify all details pertinent to the reflective exercise at hand.

Details that do not add value to the reflective process should avoided however tempting they could be.

Important questions to ask in this step include:

1. What happened?

2. When did it happen?

3. Where did it happen?

4. Who was involved?

5. What did I do?

6. What did the other people do?

7. What was the situation’s outcome?

8. What was the reason for your presence?

9. What were you expecting to happen?

Step 2: Feelings

This is a critical step when writing a reflective essay for nursing student. As such, you should deliberate on your feelings and thoughts pertaining to the experience under study.

Reflection on clinical practice in nursing requires you to explore the development of your feelings.

You should as well seek to evaluate how the feelings impacted on you. In this, you should be able to discuss your emotions in an honest and plain way.

Some of the questions to ask in this step are:

1. What feelings did you develop during the situation?

2. What were your feelings before the situation?

3. What were your feelings after the situation?

4. What could have been the initial feelings of the others involved about the situation?

5. What could be the present feelings of the others involved about the situation?

6. What were your thoughts during the situation?

7. What are your thoughts about the situation right now?

Step 3: Evaluation

As a critical step in writing a reflective essay for nursing student, evaluation requires you to discuss your thoughts on how well you suppose things went.

You should seek to examine what worked as well as what did not work in the entailed situation.

The step demands high levels of objectivity and honesty. Therefore, you should be able to highlight the positive and negative sides of the situation.

You should note that this is the section to include relevant theory and contribution from other authors.

Important questions to ask in this step encompass:

1. What was good about the experience?

2. What was bad about the experience?

3. What did go well?

4. What did not go well?

5. What did you contribute to the situation both positively and negatively?

6. What did other people contribute to the situation both positively and negatively?

Step 4: Analysis

This is another key step in writing a reflective essay for nursing student. It requires you to deliberate the aspects that could have helped or hampered the situation.

This could be realized through a comparison of your experience with information from literature read.

The section requires you to reconcile your experience and the theory. This makes it very critical to reflective thinking in nursing.

Important questions to ask in this sections include:

1. What are the reasons why things went well?

2. What are the reasons why things did not go well?

3. What is the sense that I could make of the situation?

4. What knowledge personal or borrowed could help effectively understand the situation?

Step 5: Conclusion

This step of writing a reflective essay for nursing student entails describing whether there is something else you could have done or if you could have responded in a different manner.

This looks at what you can do to ensure similar or different results.

Some of the questions to ask in this section entail:

1. What is it that I learned from the entailed situation?

2. How could the situation have been more positive for all involved parties?

3. What are the skills that I need to develop to effectively handle such a situation?

4. What more could have I done?

Step 6: Action Plan

This is the last step of writing a reflective essay for nursing student. It entails details on the knowledge you need to acquire and actions you need to take to improve in similar situations.

This could include attending training or learning about something.

Relevant questions to ask are:

1. What would I change in a similar situation?

2. How should I develop the requisite skills?

3. How can I ensure different actions in a similar situation?

Essie Fitz is a registered nurse with over 15 years experience in pain management, hospice care, and ICU.
She enjoys mentoring new nurses and nursing students.
She loves nature, reading, writing, and good music.

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