reflective journaling.pdf

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36 International Journal for Human Caring Key Words: Reflective journaling, self- awareness, caring, advanced practice, graduate nursing students Background Incorporating reflective journaling in nursing education has been advocated as a way for students to develop not only critical thinking skills, but self-understanding and a means for coping with critical incidents in practice (Craft, 2005). The concept of re- flection on practice events or experiences is not new (Schön, 1983). Reflection-on-ac- tion has been reported as a retrospective process in which students entering profes- sional disciplines attempt to make sense and create an inner dialogue about some clinical experience held to be unique or conflict- laden (Schön). While Schön’s work is not in nursing, it is relevant to the work of reflec- tion in nursing today. His approach to an epistemology of practice was based on identifying what practitioners actually do. Hence, reflection is viewed as a rigorous ac- tivity that includes the analysis of the struc- ture of reflection. This seminal work resonates with many of those in nursing ed- ucation today and forms the basis for reflec- tion in nursing. In today’s complex healthcare delivery system, nurse practitioners are challenged to deliver evidence-based care and commit to lifelong learning. Reflection on practice and an awareness of self have been recom- mended as ways to enhance clinical compe- tence (Kessler & Lund, 2004). Moreover, reflective practice has been described as a way of self-examination in which the indi- vidual reviews or looks back over what has happened in their practice as a means for professional growth (Ruth-Sahd, 2003). Reflective journaling is an effective teaching tool that can help students become more fully aware in clinical decision-mak- ing instances and ultimately promote reflec- tive practice (Kessler & Lund, 2004). Reflective journaling can also help students, as well as nurse practitioners, to sustain themselves emotionally in their work. It provides students the opportunity to tell their story about how new understanding was constructed from having entered an- other’s world and experiences (Schön, 1991). Reflective activity, or in this in- stance, reflective journaling, can be viewed as an opportunity to think consciously about clinical events and evaluate choices and identify learning needs (Johns, 2004). Moreover, self-reflection is a means by which students may develop self-aware- ness, the ability to care for self, and a grow- ing awareness of self in relationship with others (Hentz & Lauterbach, 2005). More recently it was reported that reflective jour- naling and the process of critical reflection enabled graduate nursing students to gain self-awareness and personal growth as they learned the importance of self-care in provi- sion of care to others. Graduate nursing stu- dents were able to come “…to know self as a caring person and recognizing the impor- tance of self-care to engaging in caring rela- tionships with patients” (Wilson & Grams, 2007, p. 20). Journaling has also notably
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