Perceptions of student nurses on the writing of reflective journals as a means for personal, professional and clinical learning development
Background: Reflective journals are used by the students to voice their views on the daily activities during clinical placement. Reflective journals are aimed at helping the student to observe and record as many facts about daily practice as the student finds relevant. Reflective journal writing can therefore be used as a tool to evaluate that clinical learning is actually taking place and what challenges students are experiencing which may influence their learning. Findings by Harris (2006:460e461) are encouraging that through journaling students will develop ability to identify and analyse their difficulties, make suggestions for solving problems and ask and pursue questions on their own. Some of the participants confirmed improved values clarification, self-valuing and personal growth. Bulman & Schutz (2008: 172) recommends journal writing for recording processes the student observe, copy and internalize in her journey towards professional development.
Objectives: This study aimed to determine student nurses' perceptions of reflective journal writing as a means for personal, professional development and clinical learning development.
Method: A quantitative and descriptive survey was conducted in September 2013. Forty participants were recruited from second year student nurses of a University of Technology in uMgungundlovu District of KwaZulu-Natal. Purposive convenience sampling strategy was used. A structured questionnaire was designed by the researcher from literature reviewed. The questionnaire was piloted and modified, then used after permission had been granted by the Ethics Committee of the university concerned. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 17) programme was used for data analysis.
Results: Results indicated that the participants generally experienced writing of reflective journals to be a valuable tool enhancing personal development, professional growth and clinical learning. A significant number (n = 24/60%) confirmed that they improved in making proactive decisions and taking on the spot corrective actions; 52% (n = 21) of the participants were empowered to examine their attitudes and perspectives to a given situation and 55% (n = 22) participants increased in active involvement and ownership of their learning.
Recommendations: It is recommended that clinical staff be reminded of their responsibility as role models for student nurses so as to enhance their personal, professional development and clinical development. The writing of reflective journals must be encouraged in nurse education and students given guidance and constructive feedback.
Keywords: Clinical learning, Reflective thinking skills, Registered nurse/professional nurse, Self-awareness, Student nurse
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