Why do you write a reflective essay?

Why do you write a reflective essay?
Reflective practice is part of the national competency standards for the registered nurse (Nurses and Midwifery Board of Australia [NMBA] 2006, p. 2), which state:
Critical thinking and analysis…Relates to self-appraisal, professional development and the value of evidence and research for practice. Reflecting on practice, feelings and beliefs and the consequences of these for individuals/groups is an important professional bench-mark.

Models of reflective practice
Beam, O’Brien and Neal (2010, p. 131) describe reflective practice:
… as a cyclical process involving a series of phases in which an individual describes a salient event, attends to his/her positive and negative feelings about the event and ultimately re-examines the experience in an effort to understand and to plan how he or she would act in a similar situation in the future.

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Models of reflection
Several models used to guide reflective practice exist. One example, is the Gibbs reflective cycle, illustrated in figure 1. The initial experience is described without judgement or conclusion. Thereafter, an exploration of feelings at the time of event, is required. Value judgement is drawn by evaluating both the positive and challenging aspects of the experience. To make sense of the situation, the analytical phase considers ideas from outside the realm of standard practice. Conclusions and action plans are formulated, based upon newly acquired knowledge (Levitt 2010, p. 48).

How do you write a reflective paper?
Before you start ask your subject coordinator if it is acceptable to use headings in this assessment item.
Steps to write a reflective essay
1. Read the question thoroughly. Refer to you SIAB and ask your tutor or subject coordinator for clarification
2. Source the appropriate competency standards to align your practice to (if required)
3. Identify and research the steps of the reflective model you are going to use. Most reflective essays will ask you to use Gibbs Model as outlined earlier
4. Research your experience. Ask your subject coordinator how many references you would need for your specific assessment
5. Brainstorm your ideas
6. Plan your reflective essay by using the stages of your reflection
7. Work out how many words should be in the introduction, body and conclusion. As a rule the introduction should be 10%, body 80% and conclusion 10%
8. Write section by section of your reflective model
9. Write the introduction and conclusion last
The introduction needs to include:

 the broader concept of reflective practice
 the reflective model being used
 an outline of your essay and how it will flow.
The conclusion needs to include:

 a logical end to your reflection
 the action phase of your reflection/suggestions for future practice.
10. Review and edit before you submit your assignment.

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