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Writing a Nursing Reflective Paper: Models and Example Essays

A nursing reflection paper is a written piece in which a nurse reflects on a specific experience, event, or interaction that occurred during their clinical practice or educational training. It serves as a tool for nurses to critically analyze their own thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to improve their practice and enhance their professional growth.

The purpose of a nursing reflection paper is to encourage nurses to examine their experiences in a structured and meaningful way. It allows them to explore the impact of the situation on their personal and professional development, as well as the lessons learned and any changes they would make in the future. Reflection papers are often assigned as part of nursing education programs or as a professional development activity for practicing nurses.

Review: Sample Model-Based Nursing Reflection Papers

Key Components in a a Nursing Reflection Paper

When writing a nursing reflection paper, nurses typically follow a structured format that includes:

  1. Description of the experience: Provide a detailed account of the situation or event, including the relevant background information and context. Describe the people involved, the setting, and any specific actions or decisions made.
  2. Personal feelings and thoughts: Reflect on your initial thoughts, emotions, and reactions to the experience. Consider how the situation made you feel and why you responded the way you did. Be honest and open about your own biases, assumptions, or challenges faced during the experience.
  3. Analysis and evaluation: Analyze the experience from different perspectives and evaluate the effectiveness of your actions or decisions. Consider the ethical, cultural, or professional implications of the situation and discuss any strengths or weaknesses you identified in your practice.
  4. Lessons learned: Identify the key lessons or insights gained from the experience. Discuss how the experience has influenced your professional development, knowledge, or skills. Reflect on what you would do differently in a similar situation and how you can apply these lessons to future practice.
  5. Action plan: Develop an action plan outlining the specific steps you will take to improve your practice based on the insights gained from the reflection. This can include further education, seeking mentorship, or implementing changes in your approach to patient care.

Overall, a nursing reflection paper provides an opportunity for nurses to engage in self-reflection, critical thinking, and professional growth. It helps them become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses, enhance their clinical reasoning abilities, and continually strive for excellence in their nursing practice.

Common Models in Developing Nursing Reflection Papers

There are several models and frameworks that are commonly applied in developing nursing reflection papers such as Gibbs reflective cycle, Driscoll’s model, John’s model, Kolb’s experiential model, Rolfe’s framework, and Borton’s model. These models provide a structured approach to guide nurses in reflecting on their experiences and extracting meaningful insights.

Here’s a table summarizing the models of reflection applied in developing nursing reflection papers:

Model Description
Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle
  • Description: Provide a detailed account of the experience
  • Feelings: Reflect on personal emotions and reactions
  • Evaluation: Assess the positive and negative aspects of the experience
  • Analysis: Analyze the experience, exploring what worked well and what could be improved
  • Conclusion: Draw conclusions and lessons learned
  • Action Plan: Develop an action plan for future practice
Driscoll’s Model
  • What? Describe the experience
  • So What? Analyze the significance and impact of the experience
  • Now What? Determine the next steps for personal and professional growth
Johns’ Model
  • Describe the experience
  • Reflection on the experience
  • Analysis and exploration of personal insights
  • Lessons learned and future implications
  • Action plan
Kolb’s Experiential Cycle
  • Concrete Experience: Reflect on the specific experience
  • Reflective Observation: Analyze and reflect on the experience
  • Abstract Conceptualization: Derive new concepts and ideas from the experience
  • Active Experimentation: Apply the new knowledge to future practice
Rolfe’s Framework
  • What? Describe the experience
  • So What? Analyze the meaning and significance of the experience
  • What Next? Determine future actions and areas for improvement
Borton’s Reflective Model
  • What? Describe the experience
  • So What? Reflect on the experience and consider its implications and lessons learned
  • What Next? Determine the next steps for personal and professional growth
  • These models are not exhaustive, and there are other variations and adaptations available. The choice of model depends on personal preference, educational requirements, or the specific context in which the reflection paper is being written.
  • Nurses may also modify or combine different models to suit their individual needs and reflect more effectively on their experiences.

How to Write a Nursing Reflection Paper

When writing a nursing reflective paper, it is helpful to follow a structured approach based on a particular model. Here are the steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Select a specific experience: Choose a particular event, interaction, or situation from your nursing practice or educational training that you wish to reflect upon. Ensure that the experience is significant and provides ample material for reflection.
  2. Describe the experience: Begin your reflection paper by providing a detailed description of the experience. Include relevant background information, such as the setting, individuals involved, and any specific actions or decisions made. Paint a clear picture for the reader to understand the context of your reflection.
  3. Explore your thoughts and feelings: Reflect on your initial thoughts, emotions, and reactions to the experience. Consider how the situation made you feel and why you responded in a certain way. Be honest and open about your own biases, assumptions, or challenges faced during the experience.
  4. Analyze and evaluate the experience: Engage in critical analysis of the experience. Consider the implications, significance, and impact of the situation. Assess the positive and negative aspects of your actions, decisions, and communication. Reflect on any ethical, cultural, or professional considerations that arise.
  5. Identify lessons learned: Reflect on the key insights and lessons gained from the experience. Consider what you have learned about yourself, your nursing practice, and patient care. Reflect on any changes in your knowledge, skills, or attitudes resulting from this experience. Be specific and provide examples to support your reflections.
  6. Relate to nursing theory and literature: Connect your experience to relevant nursing theories, concepts, or literature. Consider how the experience aligns with or challenges existing nursing knowledge. This step demonstrates your ability to apply theoretical frameworks and evidence-based practice to your reflections.
  7. Develop an action plan: Based on your analysis and lessons learned, identify specific steps you will take to enhance your nursing practice. Consider what changes you would make if faced with a similar situation in the future. Set goals for your professional development and outline an action plan to achieve them.
  8. Write a conclusion: Summarize the main points of your reflection. Revisit the insights gained, the lessons learned, and the action plan developed. Provide a concise summary of how the experience has contributed to your personal and professional growth.
  9. Revise and proofread: Review your reflective paper for clarity, coherence, and grammar. Ensure that your ideas flow logically and that your writing is organized. Edit any errors or inconsistencies and ensure that your paper reflects your authentic voice and thoughts.
  • Remember, reflective writing is a personal and introspective process.
  • Be open, honest, and reflective in your writing, and use appropriate nursing terminology and language.
  • Seek feedback from peers or instructors to gain further insights and perspectives on your reflections.

Key Mistakes to Avoid in a Nursing Reflection Paper

When writing a nursing reflection paper, it’s important to avoid certain common mistakes to ensure the effectiveness and quality of your reflection. Here are some key mistakes to avoid:

  1. Superficial reflection: One of the main mistakes is providing a shallow or superficial reflection. Avoid merely describing the events without delving deeper into your thoughts, emotions, and critical analysis. Instead, strive to explore the significance and impact of the experience on your personal and professional growth.
  2. Lack of self-awareness: It’s essential to be self-aware and honest with yourself when reflecting. Avoid downplaying or ignoring your own mistakes or shortcomings. Acknowledge areas for improvement and critically evaluate your own actions and decisions.
  3. Failure to connect to theory or literature: Neglecting to relate your reflection to nursing theory or relevant literature can weaken the academic rigor and depth of your reflection paper. Make sure to draw connections between your experience and existing nursing knowledge, theories, or evidence-based practices.
  4. Neglecting the impact on patient care: Remember that nursing is ultimately focused on patient care. Avoid solely focusing on your own experiences or perspectives without considering the impact on patient outcomes or the quality of care provided. Reflect on how the experience affected your approach to patient care and how you can improve in that regard.
  5. Lack of structure or organization: A well-structured reflection paper enhances clarity and coherence. Avoid presenting your thoughts and reflections in a disorganized or haphazard manner. Use clear headings or sections to guide the reader through your reflection process, and ensure that your ideas flow logically.
  6. Generalizations without specific examples: Avoid making broad statements or generalizations without providing specific examples or evidence to support your reflections. Instead, use concrete examples from your experience to illustrate your points and demonstrate your learning.
  7. Lack of action plan or future goals: Reflection is not just about looking back; it’s also about planning for the future. Avoid omitting the action plan or future goals from your reflection paper. Clearly articulate the steps you will take to improve your practice based on your reflections and set measurable goals for your professional development.
  8. Inadequate proofreading and editing: Mistakes in grammar, punctuation, or spelling can undermine the quality and professionalism of your reflection paper. Always proofread and edit your work carefully to ensure that it is error-free. Consider seeking feedback from peers or instructors to catch any errors you may have missed.
  • By being mindful of these common mistakes, you can produce a nursing reflection paper that is insightful, meaningful, and showcases your growth as a nurse.

Nursing Writing Lab