One of the most helpful aspects of journaling is having the opportunity to reflect on an experience and think about how to improve upon a similar situation in the future. Through journaling, students have a written memoir of an experience. They can reflect on this, and think about how they overcame this particular difficulty. In this way, it encourages refinement of action (Miller, 2017).
The students’ structured reflective journal will be scored based on content, quality of writing, and timeliness of submission. The true measure of success with the assignment, however, is a noted decrease in anxiety level for the student in caring for critically ill patients. For this reason, the focus of their journaling should not be on “hands on skills” performed, but on their own personal reflection of their feelings toward their patient assignment, and how those feelings impacted patient safety, communication with the patient and interprofessional team, and their provision of patient-centered care. Their ability to be able to make connections between their attitudes and fears and their overall performance will lead them to professional growth. The goal is for students to continue their practice of reflective journaling in future courses. Ideally, they may not only identify connections between student anxiety and patient safety, but also recognize their strengths and weaknesses which impact communication, safety, and the provision of patient-centered care.
Ganzer, C. A., & Zauderer, C. (2013). Structured learning and self-reflection: Strategies to decrease anxiety in the psychiatric mental health clinical nursing experience. Nursing Education Perspectives, 34(4), 244-247.
Miller, L. B. (2017). Review of journaling as a teaching and learning strategy. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 12, 39-42.
Zhao, F.-F., Lei, X.-L., He, W., Gu, Y.-H., & Li, D.-W. (2015). The study of perceived stress, coping strategy and self-efficacy of Chinese undergraduate nursing students in clinical practice. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 21(4), 401–409.