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How do veterinary students engage when reflecting on their development towards being veterinary surgeons?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stefanie ReissnerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Background: Reflection has been widely acknowledged to contribute to professional development, the ability to manage tension and enhanced resilience. However, many practitioners struggle to reflect productively due to a lack of clarity of what constitutes effective reflection. Method: To help develop reflective competence among future professionals, 30 veterinary students’ reflective assignments were analysed by thematic text analysis. Theoretical frameworks were based on published criteria for critical and core reflection. Results: Reflection was described through resources (the tools used), practices (the ways of using these tools) and outcomes (what was achieved). This helped to distinguish simple skills-based from higher level core reflection. Simple skills-based reflection was associated with an identity of expert learner: students perceive that their task is to identify a knowledge deficit that can be easily rectified through new learning. Core reflection was associated with students articulating an identity of adaptable professionals: rather than veterinary challenges being resolved simply through application of a body of knowledge, wider complexities of professional practice are recognised, including a need to resolve tension between their own and other stakeholders’ priorities, values and beliefs. Conclusion: Scaffolding an iterative, cyclical reflection process may support outcomes oriented towards resilience and the management of tension.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Armitage-Chan E, Reissner SC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Veterinary Record

Year: 2020

Volume: 187

Issue: 9

Pages: e77-e77

Print publication date: 01/10/2020

Online publication date: 17/04/2020

Acceptance date: 09/03/2020

Date deposited: 11/03/2020

ISSN (print): 0042-4900

ISSN (electronic): 2042-7670

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1136/vr.105692


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