Medical Student Reflective Writing

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

Medicine is what the educator and thinker Donald Schon called a practice profession, a profession in which the purpose of academic preparation and skill development is to apply this training in a real-world environment whose focus is some form of human service (e.g., education, architecture). Practice professions are by definition action-oriented and functional, rather than speculative and philosophical. They emphasize doing rather than being, tangible (often measurable) effects and outcomes rather than elusive and at times indescribable processes. As such, practice professions, including medicine, seem to have little use for reflection. Yet considering how dense and profound medical education is on a daily basis, it is essential that medical students learn to make space in their lives to reflect on their experience and the experiences of their patients; and through reflection, to deepen their understanding of what these experiences mean , and what they can learn from them.

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