Nursing Reflective Essay: Example Outline & Guide for Students (2023)

Are you a nursing student? Then, you will definitely have an assignment to compose a nursing reflective essay. This task might be quite tough and challenging. But don’t stress out! Our professionals are willing to assist you.

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First and foremost, let’s figure out what’s reflective writing. In a few words, such essays are based on your experiences, feelings, views on something, etc. For nursing students, reflective papers help to practice their skills and expand their knowledge.

In case you are wondering how to master nursing essay writing, you are on the right page. This article will provide tips that will help you write an outstanding student nurse reflection: examples of what to include in it, what to avoid, and what reflection ideas to use.


  1. 🆚 Analytical vs. Reflective

    1. ✒️ Analytical Essay

    2. ✒️ Reflective Essay

  2. ✍️ Writing Guide

    1. ⭕ Remove

    2. ⭕ Research

    3. ⭕ Outline and Draft

    4. ⭕ Revise and Edit

  3. 📝 Application Essay

    1. ❓ Reflecting

    2. ❗ Essential Parts

  4. ⚠️ Mistakes to Avoid

  5. 💡 Additional Tips

  6. 🤔 FAQ

    (Video) Reflective Essay (Examples, Introduction, Topics) | EssayPro

  7. 🔗 References

Toogle TOC

🆚 Analytical vs. Reflective Nursing Essay

Basically, nursing essays can be divided into different types.

The most common ones are analytical and reflective essays. These two styles are the most suitable for nursing papers. They either argue a particular perspective (analytical) or base the narration on previous experiences (reflective).

This focus is what differentiates one type of essay from another, as both analytical and reflective nursing essays can be quite similar stylistically.

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Nursing Reflective Essay: Example Outline & Guide for Students (1)

✒️ Nursing: Analytical Essay

Speaking of structural parts, the basic outline for an analytical essay on nursing can look like this:

✒️ Nursing: Reflective Essay

A reflective nursing essay usually consists of the following elements:

  • Introduction. It explains the whole purpose of the essay and tells readers what to expect. The most crucial part of the introduction is the thesis statement. Usually, it’s the last sentence of the intro. Your thesis should be concise and clearly reflect your position.

  • Description of the situation. Since a reflective essay is based on previous experiences, describing those events is the core part of the paper. Again, this section should contain only the most important and valuable details.

  • Sharing of personal feelings. The section demonstrates how you react to situations and how you’re able to gain control over those emotions.

  • Evaluation of experience. This part is a summary of what skills and knowledge did you get from experience.

  • Reflection and opportunities for learning. The part is closely connected to the previous one. While previously you were just giving a summary, here you’ll describe what this situation made you understand. Also, elaborate on your future path of self-development.

  • Conclusion. This one is simple. Just summarize all the information you discussed in your essay.

Nursing Reflective Essay: Example Outline & Guide for Students (2)

We’ll now tell you about the writing preparation process.

✍️ Reflective Nursing Essay Writing Guide

Creating a nursing reflection essay is a long and challenging journey that requires total concentration on a task. That’s why it is essential to turn your “study mode” on and devote yourself to the essay writing process.

No doubts, you might get too overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to get done. But don’t worry! We know how to avoid anxiety. Just follow out tips and write an outstanding nursing reflection paper!

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⭕ Remove the Distractions

Yes, it’s as simple as that. Ironically, most of the major problems usually happen at this initial stage. So, you just need to know how to overcome them right away.

  • Turn all the gadgets off (yes, even your cell phone).

  • Make sure to get rid of anything around you that could potentially catch your attention and distract you from writing.

  • Get earplugs if necessary.

Then, get in your “study mood.”

  • Go through all your pre-game rituals — visit the bathroom, eat, drink, meditate, etc.

  • Get fun out of the way. Dedicate some time for yourself so that you won’t have the temptation later.

  • Prepare the essentials — open your notebook or create a Word document and make sure you have all the necessary notes and resources ready.

⭕ Research

After you create perfect conditions, make another significant step to start writing. Research is an essential part of any academic work, even if you’re telling your personal story.

Here’s where you can start your search for brilliant ideas:

  • your college library;

  • your course readings;


    (Video) Steps to Write a Reflective Essay with Examples [From Introduction to Conclusion]

  • online nursing journal articles;

And no matter what topic you’re going to discuss, don’t forget that most nursing essays use a similar pattern:

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Nursing Reflective Essay: Example Outline & Guide for Students (3)


You still need to remember what we talked about in the very beginning—your story has to be unique. Use these questions as a framework, and fill the essay with unique content. If you’ve answered most of these questions, you’re halfway to your excellent grade.

⭕ Outline and Draft

No wonder outlining is a vital part of the essay writing process. It helps to reach the logical flow of ideas and organize all the arguments and examples in the right order. Also, you can easily edit a well-developed structure if something seems wrong. It’s always better to change the part of an outline rather than rewriting the entire paragraph.

Your reflective essay outline should look approximately like this:

  1. Introduction

    1. Hook

    2. Thesis

  2. Main Body

    1. Point 1 (evidence, examples, other supportive details)

    2. Point 2 (evidence, examples, other supportive details)

    3. Point 3 (evidence, examples, other supportive details)

After creating an outline, it would be a great idea to write the rough draft of your nursing reflective essay. This step will help you to avoid all the possible mistakes before submitting the paper.

⭕ Proofread and Revise

Polishing your essay is the last but not the least step of the writing process. So, take it seriously and don’t waste your chance to submit a flawless work. Revise your rough draft, make sure your ideas are coherent and supporting evidence is logical, and then create a final version of the essay.

We created the checklist of what you should take into consideration while revising your nursing reflective essay. Don’t hesitate to use it!

  • make sure you meet the writing style requirements;

  • check whether all in-text citations have the corresponding reference list entry;

  • make sure you followed the proper structure (introduction, three body paragraphs, conclusion);

  • get rid of all grammar and punctuation mistakes;

  • double-check whether your ideas are clear and the supporting details are logical.

📝 Reflective Essay: Nursing School Application

Although people say there is a lack of nurses in the United States and a high demand for good specialists with a stellar education, it is not that easy to pass a nursing school admission.

What’s the reason for this?

It seems like nursing schools are looking for outstanding students, who have made a firm decision to become a nurse and will contribute to the community of the school and the field of healthcare in general.

Nursing Reflective Essay: Example Outline & Guide for Students (4)

You need to showcase this capability in your nursing application essay, where you reflect on your goals or experience. In the following sections, we’ll explain how to write it.

❓ Reflecting on Your Goals

Here’s a question you should ask yourself.

“Why do I want to become a nurse?”

As curious as it may sound, some students do not have that answer. If you are one of them, you might want to reconsider your decision.

Being a nurse is stressful. It requires dedication, a strong philosophy, and stable mental health. And if you’re unsure about your choice — try to make up your mind as soon as possible. Getting a nursing education is a serious step in your life. So, be confident about your choice not to regret it later. The video below will give you an idea of what a day in the life of a nurse is like.

If your intentions are firm and you’re sure about your career goals, then we’re here to help you cope with all those “Why I chose nursing” essays.

  1. Know where to begin with your nursing essay. A good idea would be to find several nursing essay examples first.
    You will see that many students do not try to be creative. The same boring stories can be found in numerous essays. And it seems that those stories are taken from the same articles. This does not sound impressive at all.
    Repeating familiar stories is quite a critical mistake, and you should avoid it. We’ll talk more about common errors in nursing essay writing later, so keep on reading.
    Look through nursing paper examples and try to make your essay on nursing career different. Make it stand out from the crowd.

    (Video) How To Write a First Class Reflective Essay in 5 Simple Steps

  2. Base your essay on a true story. Think about any situation from your clinical placement, which your reflective nursing essay will be based on. Describe what happened, who was involved in the case, why it impressed you, etc.
    By doing this, you’ll demonstrate a complete understanding of the situation. Your essay will show that you’re able to comprehend what’s happening and make the right decisions, even in critical cases. These are skills that every nurse should have.

  3. Write a personal essay. Now, proceed to describe your feelings. Follow these three questions:
    How did you feel in that situation?
    What were your actions, actions of other personnel?
    Be sure to tell how much you care about what happened. It’s a great way to show how sympathetic you can be.

  4. Evaluate the event. Another stage of writing the reflective nursing essay is an evaluation of your experience.
    Why do you think it is a valuable experience for you? How did it contribute to your personal and professional development?
    Self-development is among the most important aspects of professionalism for a nurse. And you must not forget to show that you have this capability.

  5. Choose the right focus. It’s common for students to concentrate on a story that deals with the nursing profession. This is a strategy that you too can follow when writing your nursing essay. Make sure that the narrative focuses on you instead of other nurses or patients. It is your essay, so be sure to write about your personal experience.
    You have to tell the reader about all the lessons you have learned and explain how it helped you come up with a decision to become a nurse.

  6. Allow yourself to fantasize. There’s another critical subtopic you should cover in your nursing essay.
    Tell what other actions you could take and whether you would repeat them if you are to face the same situation.

Next, we’re going to talk about the parts that make up a well-written nursing essay. So, stay with us!

❗ Essential Application Essay Parts

You probably know that competition in nursing schools is especially severe compared to other educational institutions.

Your paper should be outstanding if you want to be accepted. Below, you’ll find a list of the most significant parts of any nursing admission essay. These parts contain all relevant info that the admission officers want to know about an applicant.

  1. Write an explanation. First, you need to explain how you have come up with the decision to become a nurse.

    • Is there someone who influenced your decision?

    • Was there an event that had an impact on your choice of a career?

    • Do you know what particular kind of nursing you want to do?

    These are essential questions to answer in the nursing school essay.
    You do double-duty by responding to these questions.
    Not only will you explain how you decided to become a nurse, but you’ll also make sure that your intentions are truly firm.

  2. Show what you’re worth. You need to tell about your experience in the nursing field.
    This is a job where you need at least some background experience.
    If you have never seen a syringe in your life, your nursing essay will hardly convince anybody.
    So, make a personal statement. And make it strong.

  3. Prove that you’re ready. You need to show that you are prepared to be a nurse and ready for all nursing hardships.
    Nursing is emotionally and physically exhausting. That’s why you need to demonstrate the best of your personal and professional values.
    Prove to the admission counselors that you are capable of completing the nursing job.

⚠️ Nursing Reflective Essay: Mistakes to Avoid

As we have mentioned before, the competition is going to be tough. It is not easy to enter a nursing school even with the best scores and a high GPA. So, your essay should be of the highest quality!

One of the best ways to ensure your works’ flawlessness is to learn the most common mistakes and avoid them in your paper. Below, you will find the list of the most critical errors for a nursing application essay. Investigate them here:

  1. Not including your own nursing story. Without a real-life story, a nursing application essay seems very weak.
    Listing personal qualities that a nurse should possess is not enough.
    Tell a story that will show the admission officers how helpful you were while providing care to somebody.

  2. Not sharing your experiences. Your nursing application essay will undoubtedly lose a couple of points if you do not mention some nursing-related experiences.
    A strong intention to become a nurse is great, of course.
    However, if you have no idea what nursing is all about, your essay will not be convincing.

  3. Not providing sufficient reasons to support your intentions. It is ridiculous to remind about that, but some students still fail to mention why they want to enter a certain school.
    Make sure to avoid this mistake in your nursing application essay.

  4. Plagiarizing. Plagiarism can cause you to fail your paper or be rejected by the schools you’re applying for. More importantly, plagiarizing isn’t ethical. To avoid any potential issues, make sure to cite all your sources and provide an authentic and unique story.

  5. Repeating yourself. This problem is widespread in the introduction and conclusion.
    If you need to connect the first and the last paragraphs, don’t just rewrite the info from the introduction into a conclusion. Rather synthesize your thoughts and finish your essay dynamically.

💡 Nursing Reflective Essay: Additional Tips

We’ve come to the point where you can go ahead and start writing your nursing essay. But there’s one more thing…

The process of writing a nursing essay has its own tips and tricks. So, we simply couldn’t let you go without sharing a few of them.

Hopefully, you’ll find these nursing school essay tips useful:

  1. Always start working on your student nurse essay with studying assignment instructions. It is the best way to find out what exactly will be assessed in your paper.

  2. Do not hesitate to ask your tutors for help and advice. Whether you believe it or not, but they do not want you to fail student nurse assignments and essays.

  3. To prepare a good student nurse essay, you will have to find and read quite a lot of nursing literature. Mind that it usually takes a lot of time. So, start researching early.

  4. Student nurse essays have a standard structure. Thus, make sure you have all the necessary paragraphs. Do not forget about specific terminology that should be used in your works. Also, remember about the proper formatting of your paper (e.g., MLA, Chicago, or APA format).

  5. How to summarize an article without plagiarizing? Keep your text balanced. When looking through your draft, pay attention not only to the logic of your narration. Also, check how much of the paper consists of your own thoughts and what percentage is a review of other people’s work.

With these tips in mind, it’s now your time to shine!

Writing a nursing essay doesn’t have to seem so difficult anymore. So, go forth and do it. Make it flawless because it’s your very first step on the way to success.

Also, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts! Did we miss something? Want to add more helpful info? Write about it in the comments below!

Further reading:

  • How to Write an Expository Essay in Simple Steps

  • Essay on Dengue Fever: How to Write + Free Examples

    (Video) Reflective Essay Example

  • Objective Essay Writing: How to Write, Topics and Examples

  • French Essay Writing: How-to Guide and Examples

🤔 Reflective Essay in Nursing FAQ

❓ How to write a reflective essay in nursing?

A good essay of this kind is a reflection of personal feelings, impressions, and motivation. It should be based on a real-life example. Describe an unusual situation you’ve faced during the clinical placement program. Analyze the emotions it provoked, what could have been improved, etc.

❓ How to write a good reflective essay?

Before you start writing, focus on your personal impressions provoked by a certain event or topic. Then put them down and organize cohesively. Do not forget about an appropriate introduction and a memorable conclusion.

❓ How to start a nursing school essay?

If you are to write a good application essay to progress your career as a nurse, start with formulating your personal motivation to pursue this occupation. Draft the arguments and relevant examples, and then distill the right wording to make your paper persuasive and impressive.

❓ How to conclude a reflective essay?

It is a good idea to read some examples of reflective essay conclusions, but make sure that your own version is personal and sincere. A reflective essay is all about your own thoughts and perceptions, so you may simply paraphrase and summarize them.

🔗 References


What can I reflect on as a student nurse? ›

Reflecting on clinical placement
  • Communication with others within the clinical setting – this may include staff members, patients and relatives. ...
  • Your ability to work within a team. ...
  • Your role and relationship with others within the clinical practice. ...
  • Your problem solving skills. ...
  • Your time management skills.
20 Oct 2021

What do you write in a student reflection? ›

The core elements of academic reflective writing
  • develop a perspective or line of reasoning.
  • develop a link between your experience or practice and existing knowledge (theoretical or personal)
  • show understanding and appreciation of different perspectives to your own.
2 Nov 2020

What are some examples of reflective writing? ›

Examples of Reflective Writing
  • A journal requires you to write weekly entries throughout a semester. ...
  • A learning diary is similar to a journal, but may require group participation. ...
  • A logbook is often used in disciplines based on experimental work, such as science. ...
  • A reflective note is often used in law.
18 Mar 2022

Which reflective model is best for nursing? ›

Gibbs Model Of Reflection

The simple cyclical structure of gibbs reflective cycle model makes it easy to use and popular among nurses. It is useful as it emphasises the link between reflection and action (and this can assist in setting a personal development plan).

What nursing means to me reflective essay? ›

Nursing means helping people heal, meeting their needs while they are in your care, listening to concerns, protecting them from harm, and educating them how to care for themselves while treating them with dignity, compassion and respect.

How do you write an assignment for a reflection? ›

Thinking reflectively involves:
  1. Thinking about what was done. Analyse the event by thinking in depth from different perspectives. ...
  2. Thinking about what happened, what did and didn't work, and what you think about it.
  3. Critically evaluating what you would do differently in the future and explain why.

How many paragraphs should a reflective essay have? ›

Use a three-paragraph structure. In the first one, introduce the experience and how it influenced you. In the next one, compare the experiences of others. Then, tell what you learned from it.

What are the parts of a typical reflective essay? ›

Your reflective essay should be divided into four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

What is a reflective outline? ›

A reflective essay outline is a layout of one's thoughts and ideas in regard to a specific item. This type of writing revolves around a specific response to a topic in the form of a personal reflection. Creating an outline is the first step to a well-written reflective paper.

Why is it important to reflect as a student nurse? ›

Reflection on practical experiences is a key element that enables students to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and develop nursing skills.

How nursing students can be empowered by reflective practice? ›

Self-reflection is a useful tool that can benefit student nurses and patients. It enables the student nurses to develop self-knowledge and awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, and assists them in becoming authentic when providing nursing care to patients.

What are core values in nursing? ›

Core values of nursing include altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity, honesty and social justice [3]. The core ethical values are generally shared within the global community, and they are a reflection of the human and spiritual approach to the nursing profession.

How do you start a reflective essay example? ›

Begin with a great hook and a strong introduction. Pull the reader in without giving too much away, then provide a quick overview of the reflective topic. Next, in the body of the essay, move into the meat of the paper by describing your experiences and growth.

What is an example of a reflection statement? ›

Common reflective statement stems:

“So you feel...” “It sounds like you...” “You're wondering if...” “For you it's like…” The listener can repeat or substitute synonyms or phrases and stay close to what the speaker has said.

How do you write a short reflection example? ›

How to write a reflection paper in 8 steps
  1. Understand and summarize the material. ...
  2. Analyze the material. ...
  3. Select a theme. ...
  4. Make connections between your opinions. ...
  5. Begin with an introduction. ...
  6. Write the body of the paper. ...
  7. End with a good conclusion. ...
  8. Proofread and edit.
24 Nov 2021

How do you start an essay? ›

Take a look at these common ways to start an essay:
  1. Share a shocking or amusing fact.
  2. Ask a question.
  3. Dramatize a scene.
  4. Kick it off with a quote.
  5. State your thesis directly.
  6. Pick the right tone for your essay.
  7. When you're stuck, work backwards.
2 Jun 2022

Is a reflective essay first person? ›

Getting the language right. As a large proportion of your reflective account is based on your own experience, it is normally appropriate to use the first person ('I'). However, most assignments containing reflective writing will also include academic writing.

What are the 3 models of reflection? ›

Once something has been experienced we will start to reflect on what happened. This will allow us to think through the experience, examine our feelings about what happened and decide on the next steps. This leads to the final element of the cycle - taking an action.
ERA Cycle
  • Experience.
  • Reflection.
  • Action.
22 Aug 2022

What are the six methods for reflection? ›

One of the most famous cyclical models of reflection leading you through six stages exploring an experience: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan.

What is the easiest reflective model? ›

Boud's triangular representation (Figure 2) can be viewed as perhaps the simplest model. This cyclic model represents the core notion that reflection leads to further learning.

What does nursing mean to you and why do you want to become a nurse? ›

Directly caring for patients is the biggest part of nursing, and an excellent potential aspect of your answer to the question of “why” you want to be a nurse. If you love working with patients, it could be an ideal entry into your answer to this question. “Human connection has always been important to me.

What is the focus of nursing essay? ›

Nursing essay focuses on issues and topics concerning health care, nurse practitioners, and patient-centered care.

What is the most important characteristic of a nurse? ›


One of the most important qualities of a good nurse is compassion. In their career, nurses will see patients suffer. Beyond simply offering a solution, they must be able to express compassion for patients and their families. This allows them to form meaningful relationships with their patients.

What is a good reflection paragraph? ›

REFLECTIVE PARAGRAPH A reflection paragraph simply speaks about what your thoughts are on something, rather than a summary or a description of that something itself.

What is the introduction of reflection? ›

Reflection is the process of proactively thinking about specific personal practices, experiences, emotions, actions, issues, motivations, processes, and outcomes to determine the advantages and disadvantages of a particular approach, the personal and professional learning that arose, and the lessons for the future.

How long should a reflection paragraph be? ›

A reflection paper should be between 300 and 500 words long, sometimes longer, and should report some of your thoughts about the reading in question. It may include questions about the reading, arguments on the issue raised by the author, and relevant point not raised by the author.

How do you start a reflection paper template? ›

Here are steps you can follow:
  1. Understand and summarize the material. ...
  2. Analyze the material. ...
  3. Select a theme. ...
  4. Make connections between your opinions. ...
  5. Begin with an introduction. ...
  6. Write the body of the paper. ...
  7. End with a good conclusion. ...
  8. Proofread and edit.
24 Nov 2021

How do you start a reflection paper? ›

Introduce your topic and the point you plan to make about your experience and learning. Develop your point through body paragraph(s), and conclude your paper by exploring the meaning you derive from your reflection. You may find the questions listed above can help you to develop an outline before you write your paper.

Does a reflective essay have headings? ›

Reflective reports are more structured than essays. Generally, you will include more than one experience and use section headings and sub-headings. If a specific structure is prescribed by the assignment guidelines, always follow it.

How do you write a Gibbs reflective cycle essay? ›

  1. Step 1 – Description. This should be a brief description of the experience or event to set the scene and give context.
  2. Step 2 – Feelings. ...
  3. Step 3 – Evaluation. ...
  4. Step 4 – Analysis. ...
  5. Step 5 – Conclusion. ...
  6. Step 6 – Action Plan. ...
  7. Step 1 – Description. ...
  8. Step 2 – Feelings.


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