Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

Reflective Writing During a Pediatrics Clerkship

Jamie S. Sutherell,Saint Louis University School of Medicine,St. Louis,MO


Expert physicians engage in critical reflection, which is defined as "The process of analyzing, reconsidering, and questioning experiences and of making an assessment of what is being reflected upon for the purposes of learning" (Aronson et al., 2012, p. 809).  What is not well understood is the nature of basal reflection in introductory learners when given an undifferentiated prompt, as well as the depth with which they engage in reflection.


This research seeks to achieve two objectives: first, to describe themes third year medical students choose to reflect on during a pediatrics clerkship, and second to establish their depth of reflection.


95 out of 176 students completed the assignment.  Thematic analysis yielded four common themes: Aspects of Patient Care (40.4% of all topics submitted), the Doctor-Patient Relationship (36.8% of all topics), Internal Career Considerations (14.6% of all topics), and Bias (8.2% of all topics).  Subthemes were identified within each theme.  Students were more likely to reflect on Internal Career Considerations early in the academic year and Bias later in the year.  All students engaged in reflection to a level deeper than simple narrative, while 60% engaged in the deepest level of reflection.


Pediatric clerkship students universally engaged in reflection beyond simple narrative, with a significant percentage taking their reflection to the deepest level.  Importantly themes students chose to reflect on evolved over the course of the academic year.  This provides basal data for entry learners, and serves as a springboard for further development of reflection educational activities.