Placement Reflective Essay Examples
Reflection. A mirror into your very soul, or in the case of student nurses, a dreaded word that comes attached with a hefty word count and a massive graded essay. Sadly – for some – reflection doesn’t just end when we graduate. No, reflection is part and parcel of being a nurse and when we get that sought after pin is when reflection really kicks up a gear. Reflective essays are part of life now.
You’re not studying to be a surgeon, but trust me, you’ll be dissecting every thought and feeling in your reflective essay.
I won’t bore you to tears with the ins and outs of why reflection is important (purely because I stand a decent chance of plagiarising myself here) but it is. No one stands a chance of learning new skills unless they think about what could be done better and what needs to be thrown in the bin (figuratively speaking) So, say you’re a student nurse. Say you’ve been tasked with a 3,500-word reflective essay all about something that happened to you in placement. How the heck can you get it started?
Nursing student tips: Which model of reflection is best for my reflective essay?
Gibbs’, Rolfe’s, Driscolls’, Johns’, Kolb and Schon and carry on. Seriously there are a good handful of reflective frameworks that all work in their own ways, all have their pros and cons and all demand their own attention. Some are more about learning while you’re doing things, others are about sorting all the jigsaw puzzles once it’s already happened. Some allow free through to flow like a river made of glitter, others are more like a wander in the Crystal Maze. You need to find what works best for you. I personally love Johns. Why? All the others are general, anyone can use them to reflect from teacher to managers to accountants. Johns is adapted for healthcare and nurses in particular. It makes the job easy by its very design.
Choose a model, then outline all the steps you need to take. That’s the start. STICK TO THIS FRAMEWORK and ensure you keep your heading for your reflection.
Student nurse tips: What should I reflect on in my essay?
You’ll need to take a few pointers from your module leader here. Ours was specifically to revolve around a positive experience in placement. Nothing incriminating. Nothing that’ll leave you questioning whether you should even be alive, let alone a nurse in charge of people’s healthcare. So read the brief and have a think about a patient or two that stick out in your mind.
Create a mind map of: who they are,why they came to need your help (e.g. why they were in hospital, why they needed a community nurse visit), their previous medical history, any family or relatives you interacted with, and why the event sticks out in your mind. Did they say something or do something that helped or hindered your progress? Did treating them make you feel proud? Scared? Overwhelmed? If you can link a tangible feeling to the experience, then you’re on to a winner.
Remember, reflection will be getting all deep and personal about your feelings and beliefs, about why you think and feel that way and why you reacted as such. Ain’t no use writing about something you really have no connection to. Unless you’re a martyr of course.
Nursing student tips: Your reflective essay description a.k.a the critical event
When you start writing your description, it helps to follow a logical template. Plot out each point as a simple bullet list or another mind map. This will be your cue for when you start writing it out.
1. The patient
Introduce us to the main star. For the love of Pete never, ever, ever use their full name or anything that could identify them. Change their gender if you have to, and change their name completely. But start with their age range, their reason for needing care, previous medical history and any other little snippets that give us, the reader, some clue as to what’s going on.
2. The context
Now, start with where you were placed (again, no names), the setting (e.g. community, small local hospital, large regional hospital) and what happened upon handover. What were you told about this person before you even met them? Had you met them before? That’s ok, but what’s changed since? Give the reader insight into how you fit into this story.
3. The event
You might only be talking about giving your first successful IM, or helping someone off the loo. So jump right to that. ‘After completing my nursing tasks for the day, Patient June pressed her call buzzer…’ and take it from there. You don’t need to get bogged down into what you had on your fifteen-minute break or how the consultant lost a set of notes and sent you scrambling to find them. Focus only on the experience, and only on what happened there and then.
The feelings part comes in the main body of reflection, so try and keep these to a minimum within the actual description itself. If course, if you felt apprehensive about assisting as a scrubs nurse for the afternoon make a brief note in your description, but keep the main crux of your emotional reaction for the reflective cues later. It’s ok to say ‘I helped so-and-so when they fell’ and leave feelings out, as long as you refer to them in the reflective process below.
End your description in a neat way. Did you see them again? Did they return home? Did they thank you for helping them? Was the family pleased? A short little sentence just to end the experience nicely for the reader.
Student nurse tips: Getting all emoshe with reflection
Now, this is where it gets very generic because it all depends on which framework you’re using. But as a good rule:
- Read back through your description
- Note down any feeling, anything you can draw on that will help you analyse why you did what you did.
- Note down anything that ma have influenced that feeling.
Example: I helped Patient May to see the importance of drinking more water than she had been to help her blood pressure. This made me feel proud, experienced, and competent.
Now, write WHY you felt that. I felt proud because I gave information in a simple and clear way
I felt proud because I gave information in a simple and clear way, information I had learnt from my bioscience lectures. I felt experienced because I knew I could do it again.
I felt competent because my mentor allowed me to help the lady without supervision.
Whatever. Talk about why you felt that way. For point three, acknowledge the effects others have on your feelings.
I felt scared, but my mentor reassured me which helped me feel a little more courageous. I felt confident, but my patient was nervous about her injection, which made me feel like I wanted to reassure her. Etc.
Student nurse tips: Learning and moving on, ending your reflective essay neatly
Ok, so you’ve talked about the ethics of care, and the importance of the 6Cs. You’ve applied these to your experience, and you know why you felt like you did. You’ve explored the influence other people had on you that led you to act in familiar ways, and new ways. You’ve followed your reflective pathway and now need to figure out how you’ve learnt from the whole shebang.
This is up to you. But if you felt proud, then identify how you could do better next time. How will you improve yourself to help other people? How will you adapt to get a better placement grade? How will your experience help you be a better team player? This is time to focus on the good stuff, and also the stuff that needs a little bit of work. Don’t be too dramatic here, but also don’t say you haven’t learnt anything and you’ll do the same thing next time.
That’s completely missing the point.
So that’s a super quick way to structure your reflective essay. Break it down into bite-sized chunks. Choose the pathway that works for you, and don’t be afraid to change to another if you can’t quite make it stick. If you want something easy to follow, use Gibbs’ or Johns. Create a picture of your patient. Create a simple breakdown of the description. Read through your description and note down your feelings. Note down why you felt that way, what and who influenced you thinking that way.
Before you know it you’ll have worked through all your steps one-by-one. Now, that wasn’t too hard, was it?
TAGSnursing, student nurse
A big thank you to student, Daniel Baxter of Bournemouth University for sending us his work placement report. We are so chuffed, we added it to the Strawberry website. Grab a cuppa and have a read…..could you join the team?
At the end of my first year of Fda Marketing I carried out a work placement at Strawberry Fields RePresents for a period of 6 weeks in order to help me gain an insight into the marketing world and to understand the demands of working life. Some of the intended aims of my placement were to;
· Experience real working environments
· Understand operational issues
· Acquire a professional outlook
· Build contacts for my future career
These factors are things that I should make a conscious effort to ensure that I achieve as they are key to ensuring that I get the most out of the placement.
As well as aims, there were also intended learning outcomes to be gained as a result of the placement which could be described as;
· Come to an understanding of the day to day running of a marketing organisation
· Deploy their professional skills in the workplace
· Adopt a professional attitude to creative and practical work
· Analyse and evaluate the experience
These learning outcomes were made so that I was able to understand prior to entering the placement what I should be gaining from it. This means that I am able to consciously make an effort to ensure that I get from the placement the most important factors.
The placement started theoretically with the interview. I was nervous for it as it was the most important interview I have had to go to. I ensured that I dressed or the occasion, in smart attire and prepared some insight into the company Strawberry Fields RePresents. The interview went really well, Suzy Wheeler, the company owner, gave me a short presentation and the interview was more informal than I expected. My first experience of an interview for a marketing job was nerve racking, but from it I learnt a few things such as preparation is key, to talk in a calm polite but confident manner and to ensure that you absorb all the information that the interviewee is giving thus allowing you to give a good response to what they are saying.
From this interview I was waiting for a phone call which when it came told me that I had been successful and to attend my first day of work there. When I arrived for work the first thing that Suzy said was that I did not need to wear smart clothes but casual and comfortable clothes would be fine from now on. This made me feel at ease straight away and meant that I was no longer nervous about it being my first day.
Suzy then went over again what her role is and informed me that I would be shadowing her for the duration of my placement. On the first day she set up a space next to her on her desk for me and delegated a few tasks for me to complete. These at first were only administration tasks such as filing and sorting but I did appreciate that I should have a go at every aspect of the job so that I can gain the most from the placement. The first day went really quickly and I was glad to get it out the way and ready to start the second day.
On the second day of placement I had to go for a business meeting with Suzy to see one of her clients Left and Right Clothing. They were a small clothing company from Bournemouth who wanted some help and guidance with their business in order to make any actions effective and to help push the business forward. This was my first ever business meeting and I thought I gained a lot from it. The meeting itself could be described as group work.
The very calm and fluent exchanges of information were more like a conversation than a meeting. This may just be the personal style of Suzy but I could see that this made brainstorming very easy for everyone there. In the meeting we discussed sponsorship. As they are a new company people need to see their brand in order to build a relationship with it. We then said that we could get Left and Right involved in one of our events so that they could increase the exposure of their brand which they were very pleased about.
Tasks kept getting sent my way, such as looking at the website statistics and try and identify weak parts of the website. This I felt was good as I was aware that in the second year of my course one of the units is digital marketing so I took interest in this. I also had to draw a table using excel for a clients Friday night shows for one of the clients. In order for me to fully appreciate the importance of this Suzy asked me to go and deliver it to Hot Rocks restaurant and to go through it with them. This helped as I could directly see what the effect was of the work that I had carried out.
The days went passed and the tasks there were being assigned to me were becoming second nature to me very quickly. I was learning at a fast rate and this could be put down to the fact that the support that I was receiving from my mentor was very good. If I had any problems then Suzy would help and explain things to me straight away and I felt that I could ask questions without being seen as a hindrance. Also, the fact that I was stationed on the same desk as her meant that help was never too far away. Despite the unquestioned support, I wanted to try and be as independent as possible and only ask for guidance when absolutely necessary. This I felt meant that I learnt a lot more a lot quicker due to the fact that I was solving problems myself. This in turn helped me to understand the marketing environment better.
After 2 weeks I was pretty comfortable with my role in Strawberry Fields. I felt as it is a relatively small company it meant that there was no loss of communication from top to bottom so instructions were very easy to follow.
The third week came and my employer informed me that she was going on holiday for one week but that she had set up some work for me to do over the week that she would be gone. I was quite daunted by the prospect of having to go and meet a client by myself, however I thought I would embrace the opportunity and treat it as a great opportunity to work in the industry independently.
I went to meet the client which was Champions, sound recording studios and event hosting company located in Bournemouth. I introduced myself and asked how we could assist his business. After a discussion about what their needs were, using the experience I had gained from a meeting earlier with Left and Right Clothing it emerged that they needed a business report on how to target students better.
Using my business report writing skills that I had gained from my first year at Bournemouth University I was able to write a report detailing how Champions could target students better. I was very intrigued as to how they would take my advice as it was the first report that I had written for a real world company to put into practice.
After they looked at what I had written they decided that they would go with a few of the recommendations I had made and were appreciative of the points I had highlighted as weaknesses. They decided that flyering, targeted directly to student accommodations was a good idea and ordered 700 flyers to be printed and distributed. Furthermore, I also recommended that they set up a stall at the next years Fresher’s Fair and distribute ‘goodie bags’ with advertisements of their company in them in order to make the students aware of the company.
The week went well with 3 meetings taking place on my own with them. I was unable to contact my mentor during that week as she turned off all communication systems as she was on holiday but still felt that I coped well. On her return Suzy informed me that Champions had contacted her and that they had asked her to say thanks for all my work, which I was really pleased about as this meant that they thought I done a good job and was a real confidence boost going into my further weeks with Strawberry Fields.
When tasks were being assigned to me now I was approaching them with a new point of view. Instead of being anxious about them I was getting on with what needed to be done, I could understand were Suzy was coming from more now due to the fact that I had been in the company for 3 weeks now so had a good understanding of what the company was about, what they did, how they did it and why they did it.
Learning the marketing aspects of the job was all I really thought I was going to learn from this work placement. However, Suzy mentioned to me that she needed to chase up some of the bills that were outstanding; this made me intrigued as to how she goes about setting her prices for her service, an intangible thing that seemed to be based on advice rather than her actually directly changing a business. Learning about this I thought was brilliant as I didn’t have much knowledge about it before and she went on to tell me about something completely new. She told me that some of her clients didn’t pay her any money at all, which I was very shocked to hear as I was thinking how can she be making money? The way that the company gained from this was called a contra-deal. Rather than exchanging money you exchange the goods or services that your company offers.
So we would offer the company marketing advice and they would offer us their product/service for example clothing, printing, etc. There are many different things that can be beneficial to a business to help reduce outgoing costs.
I carried on my work at Strawberry Fields and was a lot more independent than in previous weeks. I was assigned more tasks as Suzy was very keen to ensure that I was kept busy and always had something to do so that I benefited from this placement as much as she did. By now I was asked to do presentations to her pitching ideas for different events. Such as the Trouville Hotel in Bournemouth wanted ideas on how to attract more people to their Christmas dinners. Allegoric, a design company who had great work also needed ideas for their business.
I was also asked to carry out and make databases of companies in specific areas. This would involve using the internet to find contact details and company names of whatever area necessary in order to have your target market in one place to assist with mailing lists.
When we went to the BIC in Bournemouth for a meeting with the marketing managers about their new events that they were going to be running I was very surprised when Suzy asked me to be responsible for updating their mailing list. I had to ring and confirm names, emails and numbers and update any out of date information to ensure that the BIC didn’t lose contact with important people to their business.
The whole experience of my first marketing placement was all very exciting. I received help from the placements lecturer in order to help find a placement to a certain level and advised how to go about and approach the placement. This helped me because it meant that I was more prepared than I would have been going into it which made it easier to settle in.
Looking back on it all I feel that I gained majorly from it. I experienced the full working week for the first time which made me realise not only how lucky I am to have so little lecture time compared to it but that hard work gives good results. Being in the working environment meant that I gained more practically than I could ever in a class room die to the fact that actually being there, carrying out the tasks meant that I could take it in better and appreciate what I was learning better than it being written on a computer.
I am glad that I done my placement as it adds to experience I can show to future employers and also because it enables me to understand more things first time in the class room after doing the placement as I can use examples from my experiences there and use them to explain the rationale behind marketing theories.