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Reflective writing: The student nurse's perspective on reflective writing and poetry writing

Coleman, Dawn; Willis, Diane S.


Dawn Coleman




Reflective writing is a mandatory part of nurse education but how students develop their skills and use reflection as part of their experiential learning remains relatively unknown. Understanding reflective writing in all forms from the perspective of a student nurse is therefore important.


To explore the use of reflective writing and the use of poetry in pre-registered nursing students.


A qualitative design was employed to explore reflective writing in pre-registered nursing students.


A small university in Scotland.


BSc (Hons) Adult and Mental Health Pre-registration Student Nurses.


Two focus groups were conducted with 10 student nurses during March 2012. Data was analysed thematically using the framework of McCarthy (1999).


Students found the process of reflective writing daunting but valued it over time. Current educational methods, such as assessing reflective accounts, often lead to the ‘narrative’ being watered down and the student feeling judged. Despite this, reflection made students feel responsible for their own learning and research on the topic. Some students felt the use of models of reflection constricting, whilst poetry freed up their expression allowing them to demonstrate the compassion for their patient under their care.


Poetry writing gives students the opportunity for freedom of expression, personal satisfaction and a closer connection with their patients, which the more formal approach to reflective writing did not offer. There is a need for students to have a safe and supportive forum in which to express and have their experiences acknowledged without the fear of being judged.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 19, 2015
Publication Date 2015-07
Deposit Date Dec 9, 2015
Publicly Available Date Oct 1, 2016
Print ISSN 0260-6917
Electronic ISSN 1532-2793
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 7
Pages 906-911
Keywords Reflective writing; Poetry; Mental health; Adult nursing; Nurse education; Compassion;
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