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Nurse Educ Pract. 2007 Mar;7(2):112-9. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Facilitating reflective practice and self-assessment of competence through the use of narratives.

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  • 1The University of Newcastle, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.


Reflective practice is a skill that is central to nursing students' professional development. Although there is an abundance of literature on the value of reflective practice there are few concrete methods that facilitate self-assessment of competence through the use of reflective practice. One such method is narrative reflection. A nursing narrative is a brief recount of an actual situation or episode in clinical practice that is significant because it resulted in new learning and/or new understanding. Narratives provide important opportunities for uncovering nursing practices that often go unnoticed and a new appreciation of the knowledge and skills of clinical practice. Nursing narratives reveal the richness of the clinical knowledge embedded in practice and provide a way for knowledge and practice to be linked together in meaningful dialogue, promoting interpretive analysis and reflection. A narrative approach contextualises knowledge and values and builds upon the clinical experiences of the student. Narratives afford opportunities for nursing students to: Learn from practice through reflection. Describe and critically analyse episodes of their clinical practice. Illuminate and assess their own level of competence by applying competency standards as a benchmark. Identify areas of strength and those requiring development. Develop practice-driven clinical learning objectives. Narratives have proven to be a successful means of developing students' ability to reflect upon and assess competence in a clinically relevant and motivating way. This paper will explore the possibilities that narratives hold for developing clinical acumen, promoting reflective practice, and assessing competence. It will provide an overview of narrative writing, and discuss some of the challenges encountered in the implementation of this clinical learning innovation at the author's university in Australia.

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