As a practitioner, reflective writing in nursing involves a process of making sense of experiences in order to learn. Oftentimes, nurses and other medical practitioners reflect as a part of their daily practice, sometimes even unaware that they are doing it. Reflective writing in nursing has numerous benefits for both the professionals and the patients.
To reflect effectively, nurses should describe, analyze, and evaluate experiences from their respective practices in a manner that helps them make sense of it. Reflection can happen before, during, and after an experience or event. Regardless of the moment, it happens, it often allows for learning.
When practicing reflective writing nursing, avoid choosing negative incidents, since they may make you dwell on things that never went well instead of focusing on what went well. Therefore, always be mindful of what you choose to reflect on, and gravitate towards more positive events or experiences. While Reflection often happens at an individual level, reflective writing in nursing can happen in a group setting depending on the situation. Such Reflection can either be formal or informal, which includes reflecting for revalidation purposes.
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The definition of reflective writing in nursing can be drawn from the practice of Reflection. Reflective practice involves going back over experiences or events of a particular working day, and examining what you did and how you did it.
You can think of nursing reflection as a cycle, where you look at the events that happened, what you did, what you could have done better, and what you can do next time. Reflective writing in nursing is not about this in your abilities and finding the flaws in the decisions you made in the course of your work. However, if you made any mistakes during specific stages of work, or if you could have handled matters better, reflective writing in nursing can help improve your work. Through such improvements, you can be in a position to respond better when similar events happen in the future.
While reflective practice in writing is quite common, you can also do it by thinking if it is more comfortable for you. However, it is recommendable to take notes, because such tangible evidence often comes in handy later. Another excellent way of reflective practice is via supervision sessions.
Below are some steps to follow during reflective writing in nursing:
A reflective piece of writing is a form of essay where the writer examines experiences in their life. After examination, the writer writes about such experiences, diving deeper into how they changed, grew, or developed from them. Depending on your discipline and audience, the format of your reflective piece of writing may change slightly.
Think about an experience or an event that could make an excellent topic for your Reflection. When you have settled on a single event, contemplate how you feel about it, how the event affected your life, and why it affected you. Doing this will enable you to create a thesis statement, which should serve as the focal point of your reflection paper.
A great way to do this is by writing down your thesis statement and drawing a circle around it. After doing this, identify the main ideas and arguments that will support your thesis, while helping readers follow how your thoughts and experiences evolve throughout the essay. Group these ideas into paragraphs which you will focus on filling out later. Connect all these ideas to your central circle. While such a flow diagram is very simplistic, it can help you develop a bigger picture of your essay’s overall structure in a clear manner. Finally, decide on the logical sequencing of your paragraphs, and arrange them accordingly.
When you eventually embark on writing your Reflection, take everything off with a strong opening paragraph. Make the introduction of your essay very attention-grabbing. A catchy introductory paragraph will make your readers hooked from the very onset.
State all the supporting ideas, examples, and arguments within the body paragraphs of your Reflection. Within each paragraph, make sure you emphasize only one experience or point, as well as your reflections on it.
Wrap up your Reflection with a conclusion paragraph. Provide a brief summary of your thoughts within the first sentence of your conclusion. Think about everything you have learned and how your experiences may be helpful to others. If appropriate, conclude your essay with a rhetorical question to your audience about how they would act in a similar situation. Alternatively, you could ask them to reflect on topics such as what you have written about on their own.
Since the introduction of reflective practice in nursing, nurses have enjoyed significant benefits. Some of the benefits include:
Regardless of profession, people process information differently. This is even without considering the fact that most nurses work under stress, the commitments they make, and the limited time they get to spend with their loved ones.
What this implies in real terms is that whenever nurses make mistakes or learn new things, they retain information differently. This is because some nurses may not retain information too well, while others retain a lot of information.
Through reflective writing in nursing, however, nurses have to sit down and consciously contemplate about their experiences at work. This action of conscious thinking implies that nurses begin to place their incidents or days at work in long-term memory.
As nurses begin to go over different events and reflect on all the alternative actions they could have taken, they reinforce positive actions deeper into their memories.
While Reflection can occur before or after a specific event, it often takes place during events. This implies that nurses reflect on their actions as they write in their daily journals or discuss matters with their managers.
With practice, however, reflective practice can happen in action. This occurs when nurses recognize different situations while they are still in them, and are capable of reflecting on what is happening. Such Reflection takes nurses down a road of mindfulness, i.e., the skill of stepping back objectively, and looking at situations while still handling them. Nurses neither have to say anything that pops into their heads nor do they have to panic and become nervous during the moment.
All kinds of things can happen to nurses and patients during the course of work. Sometimes things happen in the presence of nurses, and sometimes they walk in and find situations unfolding. Clearly remembering incidents and events as they occurred, without leaving out your actions can be a very vital skill.
This is why reflective writing in nursing is highly encouraged, be it formal or simply writing in a daily journal. Through reflective writing in nursing, nurses can capture all vital pieces of information and refer to them in the future if need be.
Reflection is a vital skill for all health professionals since it helps them share knowledge with other health professionals. It benefits practitioners and enables them to make sense of challenging situations. Without a doubt, this helps optimize work practices while improving interprofessional relationships.
Through Reflection, nurses and other health professionals alike can look into the practices of their colleagues from an objective point of view. By doing this, nurses can boost the quality of their performances at work. Reflection creates room for identifying strengths and weaknesses, which form a basis for enhancing and developing the areas that need improvement.
Below are some recommended steps to follow when writing reflective accounts:
All reflective writing in nursing or any other kind of Reflection for that matter begins with an introduction. In the introduction, state the expectations you had for a lesson, reading, or experience intend to reflect on. End your introduction with a thesis statement that shows how your views changed.
While most reflective essays follow the conventional introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion format, reflective writing in nursing follows a slightly different format. Reflective nursing essays typically consist of the following elements:
Writing about educational or professional experiences in the nursing field is a common practice that has been in place for a long time now. This form of writing enables nurses to develop Reflection and consequently learn from their experiences. Most healthcare professionals encourage reflective writing to sustain the development of relational, ethical, and clinical competence in nurses while promoting self-knowledge. The introduction of a nursing essay should explain the purpose of the essay and inform readers what to expect.
Since reflective writing in nursing depends on previous experiences, describing these experiences forms the core/essential part of the essay. This section should only have valuable and important details of the essay.
In this section, nurses not only have to demonstrate their reactions to specific situations but also share their personal feelings. Oftentimes these feelings should be about how they were able to overcome their emotions and act rationally.
While evaluating your experiences, remember to keep things short. You can make this section a summary of their experiences or events in question mean to you at a professional level.
This section has a close connection to the previous section. While in the previous section, you are only providing a summary of the specific event or experiences, this section should focus on illustrating what the specific events or experiences made you understand. Also, illustrate any plans of self-development you intend to pursue in the future.
This section is very simple and straightforward. Provide a summary of all the information you discuss within the essay. Avoid introducing any new ideas, as it may confuse your readers.
The aim of this essay is to reflect on my encounter with a patient in a healthcare setting. I will use The Gibb’s Reflective Cycle as it is a popular model of Reflection. Reflection is often synonymous with learning from experiences. Professionals view it as an important approach to embracing a system of lifelong learning. Generally, reflective practice entails a process of learning through and from activities or experiences to gain a deeper sense of understanding of self and/or practice. Most professionals view this method as an effective way of promoting professional and personal development, both independent and qualified professionals. Such development eventually stimulates both professional and personal growth.
The event I will be reflecting in this paper happened during my placement in the oncology ward during the first year of my professional career as a nurse. We had an elderly patient in the ward, whose reason for admission was stomach cancer. As sooner as he arrived, we read his notes. The notes indicated that he had major learning difficulties, implying that he also faced difficulties with verbal communication.
My main areas of Reflection are how other nurses and I utilized the power of communication to show compassion and calm the patient, as well as the flexibility in our methods of care to address the specific needs of the patient.
One nurse came into the ward with four members of the public, whose view of the ward was part of a job advertising procedure. When the nurse walked into the patient’s bay, she told the four members of the public that the patients in that bay were receiving radiotherapy treatment at the moment. Upon hearing these words from the nurse, the patient got overly distressed and started shrieking, crying, and banging his head back against the pillow. While it took a lot of time, another nurse was able to calm the patient down by talking to him in a soothing manner.
Before the incident happening, I was mindful that this particular nurse was showing the four members of the public around the oncology ward as part of the job advertising procedure. When the incident occurred, I had only been at the oncology ward for about six months. My naïveté at the time made me feel a bit unsure of my position and role within the team.
Ultimately, I felt a strong lack of experience confidence to handle the situation independently. Looking back, I think my heightened level of anxiety made me struggle to intervene. However, it does not change the fact that my colleagues and I should have intervened sooner to ensure we dealt with the patient more effectively. Moreover, I was perturbed when the nurse did not take into consideration the specific needs of the patient during the visit to the oncology ward. This is because the distress caused to both the members of the public and the patient was unnecessary.
In hindsight, this event had good and bad elements that increased my understanding of the patient’s experience and my position as a nurse practitioner within an oncology team. Essentially, my role in that situation was to administer physical examinations and evaluate the patient’s health, prescribed and give medication, recommend laboratory and diagnostic tests, read the results, manage any side-effects of treatment, and offer support to the patient. Such support includes acting in the patient’s best interests.
In this regard, I feel that I did not provide enough support to the patient. I did not fulfill my duty to protect the patient’s confidentiality and ensure the other nurses were aware of the patient’s communication difficulties and accompanying anxiety. Our failure to work together as a team through information sharing and intervening before the situation escalated reveals how low our group cohesiveness was at the time.
According to research, people with learning difficulties usually struggle to adapt to new settings. This increases the likelihood of problematic behavior when handling issues outside the norm. Nevertheless, healthcare staff ought to be aware of effective methods of interacting with such people. Through regular Reflection, nurses can improve their ability to handle these situations.
Before admission into hospitals, it is advisable that healthcare professionals dig into the communication of the patients they will handle, what they like, and what they do not like. This will help address the patient’s potential fears either by discussing or allowing the patient to interact with the nursing staff at the ward. Moreover, daily communication with patients who face learning difficulties should involve holistic or patient-centered care to fully address their needs. This could involve both verbal and non-verbal means of communication. Therefore, it is advisable for professionals to look and listen, make eye contact, be interactive and communicative, allocate sufficient time for the patient, and, if possible, allow people with experience in handling patients with learning difficulty to handle the patient.
From this incident, I believe I have become more mindful of the essence of exerting professionalism in practice and being assertive. The insight I gained from this experience makes me more aware of the consequences of not acting promptly. I am also keen on acting in the patient’s best interests, even if it takes tremendous courage. We should also place greater emphasis on healthy working relationships among healthcare professionals within the oncology ward. Healthy relationships are likely to enhance group cohesiveness.
If such situations arise in the future, I intend to be more proactive in my actions. I aim to tackle situations face regardless of my level of experience or my position within the team. This includes handling stressed patients, ensuring that I convey important information to relevant staff members, and intervening when I deem the patient’s mental well-being or health to be at risk. Additionally, I will address how I approach patients with learning difficulties in the future by using the most ideal methods of communication and conducting independent research on their individual needs.
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