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      To be or not to be a facilitator of reflective learning for medical students? a case study of medical teachers’ perceptions of introducing a reflective writing exercise to an undergraduate curriculum

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          Introducing reflective writing to a medical curriculum requires the acceptance and participation of teachers. The purpose of this study was to explore medical teachers’ views on the benefits of introducing a reflective writing exercise into an undergraduate medical curriculum, including their levels of satisfaction and their concerns. We also investigated effects on the teachers’ personal and professional development arising from their roles as novice facilitators.


          A qualitative approach was employed using semi-structured interviews. During an attachment to Primary Care Medicine course, fourth-year medical students ( n = 180) in the Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand were assigned to write a reflective essay titled, “A Significant Event in My First Clinical Year”. After reading the essays and facilitating between one to three small group discussions based on these, each of the 18 teachers enrolled in our study completed an in-depth face to face interview. Transcripts of these were studied, using thematic content analysis to identify emerging themes.


          The novice facilitators felt that facilitated reflection was both valuable and appropriate for students. They also perceived that it had a positive impact on their own personal and professional lives. In the early phase of implementing this activity, teachers expressed concerns about 1) their ability and confidence as facilitators in small group discussion 2) their ability to deal with emotions raised within their groups 3) the effectiveness of the activity 4) poor presentation and possible fabrication of student work.


          Most teachers regarded this activity as being beneficial to them, to student learning, and to the curriculum. Their insights, including concerns about the level of skill needed for facilitation, provide valuable material for planning a comprehensive faculty development programme.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Reframing medical education to support professional identity formation.

          Teaching medical professionalism is a fundamental component of medical education. The objective is to ensure that students understand the nature of professionalism and its obligations and internalize the value system of the medical profession. The recent emergence of interest in the medical literature on professional identity formation gives reason to reexamine this objective. The unstated aim of teaching professionalism has been to ensure the development of practitioners who possess a professional identity. The teaching of medical professionalism therefore represents a means to an end.The principles of identity formation that have been articulated in educational psychology and other fields have recently been used to examine the process through which physicians acquire their professional identities. Socialization-with its complex networks of social interaction, role models and mentors, experiential learning, and explicit and tacit knowledge acquisition-influences each learner, causing them to gradually "think, act, and feel like a physician."The authors propose that a principal goal of medical education be the development of a professional identity and that educational strategies be developed to support this new objective. The explicit teaching of professionalism and emphasis on professional behaviors will remain important. However, expanding knowledge of identity formation in medicine and of socialization in the medical environment should lend greater logic and clarity to the educational activities devoted to ensuring that the medical practitioners of the future will possess and demonstrate the qualities of the "good physician."
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            The self critical doctor: helping students become more reflective.

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              Reflecting on reflections: enhancement of medical education curriculum with structured field notes and guided feedback.

              The promotion of reflective capacity within the teaching of clinical skills and professionalism is posited as fostering the development of competent health practitioners. An innovative approach combines structured reflective writing by medical students and individualized faculty feedback to those students to augment instruction on reflective practice. A course for preclinical students at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, entitled "Doctoring," combined reflective writing assignments (field notes) with instruction in clinical skills and professionalism and early clinical exposure in a small-group format. Students generated multiple e-mail field notes in response to structured questions on course topics. Individualized feedback from a physician-behavioral scientist dyad supported the students' reflective process by fostering critical-thinking skills, highlighting appreciation of the affective domain, and providing concrete recommendations. The development and implementation of this innovation are presented, as is an analysis of the written evaluative comments of students taking the Doctoring course. Theoretical and clinical rationales for features of the innovation and supporting evidence of their effectiveness are presented. Qualitative analyses of students' evaluations yielded four themes of beneficial contributions to their learning experience: promoting deeper and more purposeful reflection, the value of (interdisciplinary) feedback, the enhancement of group process, and personal and professional development. Evaluation of the innovation was the fifth theme; some limitations are described, and suggestions for improvement are provided. Issues of the quality of the educational paradigm, generalizability, and sustainability are addressed.

                Author and article information

                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Medical Education
                BioMed Central (London )
                4 April 2016
                4 April 2016
                : 16
                [ ]Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
                [ ]Medical Education Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
                © Sukhato et al. 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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