Nursing Reflective Essay: Example, Outline, & Writing Guide

The picture contains a definition of a nursing reflective essay.

A nursing reflective essay is a piece of writing where the writer examines their clinical or medical experiences and reflects on personal outcomes. Composing an impressive reflection requires a lot of creativity. It tends to be a challenging experience for most students.

We are here to make the writing process less intimidating. In this article, we will give you:

  • a guide on how to apply a reflective cycle framework;
  • four writing prompts with different topics;
  • and a nursing reflective essay example.

🏥 Nursing Reflective Essay: Why Is It Important?

A reflection is a practice of thinking through and interpreting your memories, experiences, and actions to understand yourself and learn from your analysis. Reflective writing also helps you develop critical thinking skills. Students are taught to identify what works well and what needs improvement by writing an essay on the nursing profession.

There are many different approaches to this kind of writing. To write a good reflection, it’s useful to follow a clinical writing framework. A framework helps you situate your ideas, concepts, and theories into the existing knowledge.

The most famous one is Gibbs’ reflective cycle. It’s commonly used by health professionals. Below we will discuss this framework and tell you how to apply it to your reflective essays.

♻️ Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle in Essay on Nursing Profession

Graham Gibbs developed his reflective cycle in 1988 to give structure to any learning process. It is an effective action-based model that can be used in reflective essays for nursing students to work through any experience in 6 stages.

The picture illustrates the 6 stages of Gibbs' reflective cycle.

Let’s examine if this framework’s format will work for you. Have a look at these statements:

  • You want to reflect on your experience and transform it into a learning model.
  • You want to unravel repeated behavior patterns.
  • You want to understand why you do things the way you do.
  • You want to do better in the future.

If they describe your intentions, then Gibbs’ reflective cycle is exactly what you need.

Think about a nursing experience or a situation that didn’t turn out as you expected. These questions will show you what to include for each stage.

Stage 1: Describe the eventWhat was the situation? Who was involved? What did you do? What did others do?
Stage 2: Describe your feelingsHow did you feel at the time? Was there anything that influenced the way you felt? Did obstacles such as timing, location, lack of information, or resources affect your feelings?
Stage 3: Evaluate your experienceHow did the combination of facts and feelings affect your behavior? What other circumstances could influence your decisions in this situation? Was the overall experience positive or negative?
Stage 4: Analyze your experienceWhat did you learn from this situation? How would you connect the facts and feelings with your evaluation?
Stage 5: Formulate your findingsWhat did you discover? What was the outcome?
Stage 6: Draw up an action planWhat would you do differently if this situation arises again? What kind of resources or help would you need?

✍️ Nursing Reflective Essay Outline

Here is a great example of how to apply Gibbs’ reflective cycle. Pay attention to the contents of each essay part.

Topic: Dealing with death at the scene in paramedic practice.

IntroductionSome background information regarding the experience.While getting my medical degree, I was required to take basic EMT training for eight months. This experience was extremely stressful for me. In particular, seeing the death of a patient for the first time almost made me want to quit.
ThesisThe main idea of the essay.My experience shows that further therapeutic support is necessary for paramedics confronted by death at work.
Description of the eventThe patient’s death and the events leading up to it.The incident I want to reflect on occurred during my paramedic internship. Another grad student and I received a call to attend to an unconscious patient. His daughter was with him, begging to save her father. We requested a backup ambulance and continued with the patient’s assessment. While my partner was comforting the daughter, I found that the patient had already died.
FeelingsWhat did the nurse feel when they were confronted with death for the first time?Situations that deal with death have always been challenging for me. The daughter was grieving, and my duty was to comfort her. I felt scared, but I knew I needed to keep calm.
EvaluationHow the nurse acted under the circumstances.When I decided to be a paramedic, I was aware of the potential death at the scene. It was morally challenging to witness someone die before my eyes. I did not allow my fear to impact the quality of care I provided. We called the backup as soon as I got to the scene, but we could not save the patient.
AnalysisWhat did they feel when the patient died and what helped them handle the situation?Having that experience for the first time was extremely stressful for me. Handling communication with the patient’s daughter about her father’s death was especially challenging. I received support by talking to my partner and other paramedics. I find support from people who had similar experiences very helpful.
FindingsWhat the nurse discovered after being confronted with death at the scene.Paramedic experiences with death at the scene are extremely challenging. Keeping calm is very important, and proper support is necessary if the incident is distressing for a paramedic.
Action planDescription of what would’ve helped the nurse to handle this situation better.My reflection suggests that therapeutic support is required in order to help paramedics deal with stressful situations such as a patient’s death.
ConclusionA brief summary of the main points.My first experience of death at the scene was very challenging for my mental health. However, a proper reflection helped me to learn from it. It also showed me the importance of mutual support among paramedics, especially in stressful situations. I am sure this experience will help me become a better professional.

📝 Essay on Nursing Profession: Writing Prompts

Now that you’ve learned about Gibb’s reflective cycle, it’s time to choose a topic. These prompts should give you some writing ideas. And if you won’t find anything suitable, you are always welcome to use our topic generator.

Mentorship in Nursing Essay

Mentorship is a topic suitable for a reflection essay. This writing prompt involves an assessment of a person who was mentoring you. Alternatively, you may reflect on your own experience as a mentor. You aim to analyze what makes an effective mentor and how it correlates with their mentees’ performance.

You can start with assessing the current situation and then produce an action plan for a student nurse. Reflection examples may include evaluation of one’s competence and knowledge they possess. Make sure not to mention any real names.

Remember that the goal of this essay is not to criticize but improve the mentoring experience for you or your mentees.

Below is an example of a nursing essay that focuses on mentorship:

Importance of Communication in Nursing Essay

The importance of communication skills in a nursing career is another topic suitable for a reflection essay. Here is what you can write about:

  • Patients open up about the true extent of their symptoms if they can trust their nurse. Show how lack of communication can result in patients misunderstanding treatment protocols and failure to receive proper care.
  • If you’ve ever dealt with compassion fatigue, you can use your reflection essay to raise awareness of this issue.
  • Evaluating the importance of non-verbal communication during extreme situations could be a great reflective essay topic. Nursing students will definitely benefit from it.

Below are some examples of nursing essays that focus on communication:

Leadership in Nursing Essay

Leadership is a crucial part of effective healthcare. In a reflective essay, you can explore it in various ways:

  • Say whether you agree that all nurses need to possess leadership skills. Discuss how it improves the patient’s recovery chances.
  • You can write about your own leadership journey and what was required of you to become a great leader.
  • You may also write about a real-life situation where a lack of leadership resulted in poor patient care quality. This way, you’ll turn that experience into a reflection.

Below are some examples of nursing essays that focus on leadership:

Compassion in Nursing Essay

Compassion is a strong foundation of trust. As a nurse, your goal can be to discuss that genuine compassion is about a deeper level of connecting with your patients. This topic is perfect for a reflection, and here are some of your options:

  • You may want to examine your strategies for providing patients with a sense of security.
  • You can also discuss how to make them feel heard and recognized. Many patients feel like their concerns are not acted upon and ignored. Show its importance in your reflective essay.

Below are some examples of nursing essays that focus on compassion:

Note that there is another compassion in nursing essay sample at the end if this article.

💡 Nursing Reflective Essay Topics

In this section, we have collected topic ideas for you to write a reflection on your nursing education and experiences.

  1. The clinical experience course reflection.
  2. Patient case reflection: Providing palliative care to an older adult.
  3. Nursing reflection: An ethical-legal challenge.
  4. Postoperative complications: A reflection on possible causes.
  5. A reflection on misdiagnosis and its outcomes.
  6. Patient dissatisfaction: A nursing reflection on what went wrong.
  7. Aspects of reflective practice models.
  8. Reflect on a difficult nursing procedure that you performed well.
  9. A reflection on personal experience in mental health nursing.
  10. Nursing practice personal experience.
  11. A nursing reflection on care for terminally ill pediatric patients.
  12. Nursing personal leadership: Reflection.
  13. Personal teaching experience: Additional roles of nurses.
  14. Reflecting on family-centered care in nursing.
  15. The relevance of nursing theory to personal professional beliefs and values.
  16. A reflection on clinical experiences in the critical care unit.
  17. The development of the personal philosophy of nursing.
  18. The personal experience in leadership among nursing.
  19. Reflecting on the importance of providing support to women in maternity care.
  20. Personal philosophy of nursing.
  21. Nurses’ experiences during advanced level nursing education.
  22. Self-reflection in nursing educators: A tool for identifying personal knowledge gaps.
  23. Nursing practice experience in the elderly care.
  24. Sharing knowledge learned from a practicum project.
  25. A reflection on challenges in translating scientific evidence into clinical practice.
  26. Nursing students in the clinical learning environment.
  27. A nurse’s reflection on skills acquired during a clinical internship.
  28. Professional learning experience in nursing.
  29. Online learning during working towards a doctoral degree.
  30. Reflect on your knowledge about a specific health condition.
  31. Lack of proper hand washing in my community.
  32. A nursing reflection on cultural awareness and the importance of culturally sensitive care.
  33. My nursing philosophy and beliefs.

📑 Critical Reflection Essay Example: Nursing

Finally, let’s have a look at this nursing reflective essay sample. It will inspire you and help kickstart your writing process.

The Role of Compassion in Nursing Care of Terminally Ill Patients


Some people define compassion as being nice to people. However, it is much more than that. My personal experience showed me that compassion is an essential quality for a nurse.


Compassionate care in nursing gives a deeper level of connecting with patients and provides them with a sense of security.

Description of the event:

It is easier to know what compassion is after a person experiences it firsthand, as I did with one of my patients. My patient was a young woman from Pakistan in the last stages of lung cancer. We provided her with proper treatment and medication so we could make her feel as comfortable as possible. Telling someone that they are going to die so early is not easy. Being a compassionate nurse means being honest and open, so I informed the girl and her parents of every step.


No matter how often I tell people the bad news, it is always hard. To be compassionate means to treat your patients with care and understanding. It means to relate to them and what they are going through, what sacrifices they must make along the way. After each chemotherapy treatment, the young girl had cravings for ice cream. I found a way to get it for her. Since then, we have had a powerful bond. Comforting my patient did not feel like a job or duty; it felt like the most human thing to do. The girl lived for two more months. She was not scared because her family and I were by her side.


I still remember coming home after those long shifts and not being able to sleep. As an experienced nurse, I knew dealing with death was a part of my job. The last thing my patient and her family needed was my anxiety, fear, pity, and remorse. Being a compassionate nurse is a noble and demanding job. It is not just about being nice to terminally ill patients. It is about developing a deeper level of connection to help them feel secure.


Cancer care is a high-emotion service. The feeling of powerlessness, lack of control, and grief is essential to it. My job was to keep calm, even when I felt emotionally drained. I may never understand what my patients are going through, but I can get to know them. What they need is to be heard.


The compassionate environment created by a nurse improves a patient’s well-being and can be a potential antidote to emotional and mental exhaustion, fear, and depression.

Action plan:

In addition to work experience and skills, managers must make hiring decisions based on candidates’ humanistic values. Evaluating their capacity for compassion can prove helpful in hiring.


As a nurse, I managed to temper lung cancer’s emotional and mental impact on my patient. Being compassionate was key to it working out.

Now you know everything about writing a nursing reflection paper. And if you have already written an essay and want to listen to it, you are welcome to use “Read my Paper” tool.

We hope that reading our guide will encourage you to look back at your experiences and learn from them. Good luck with your professional nursing career!

❓ Essay on Nursing: FAQ

How do you write a good nursing essay?

– Always make sure you understand the assignment. – Find the topic that interests you. – Do your research and create an outline. – Write the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. – Make sure that your essay’s content is connected to your thesis. – Don’t forget to proofread your paper.a

How do you write a reflective essay in nursing?

A reflection essay allows you to examine your clinical or medical experiences and reflect on personal outcomes. Choose your topic and start by writing an outline. You can use Gibbs’ reflective cycle to help you unravel deeper behavior patterns by analyzing your experiences in 6 simple steps.

What is a nursing essay sample?

A student nurse reflection example can give you some ideas of what to write about. For instance, if you need to write a “Why I want to be a nurse” essay, a sample can provide you with reasons such as the desire to help other people.

How do you write an essay for nursing school application?

The secret to writing an impressive admission essay is to make it a unique personal statement. – Explain why you chose to be a nurse. – Give examples when you went above and beyond to care for someone. – Reflect on your qualifications.

🔗 References

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