Writing Reflective Nursing Essay Body Paragraphs

A reflective nursing essay allows you as a nursing student to analyze an experience or event from your clinical practice and reflect on what you learned from it. The body paragraphs are where you will provide the details of the situation, your thoughts and feelings at the time, and your reflection on what you took away from the experience. Here are some tips for structuring your essay body paragraphs:

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Describe the Situation Objectively

The introductory paragraph for the essay body should provide an objective description of the event or situation you are reflecting on. Give the background details needed to understand the context – where were you, who was involved, what was happening? Describe only the facts without interpreting or passing judgment.

For example, you may describe a time you had difficulty starting an IV on a pediatric patient. Give details like the child’s age, behavior during the procedure, the number of attempts made, etc. The details should paint a clear picture of the scenario for the reader before you move into your subjective thoughts and reflections.

Explain Your Thoughts and Feelings

The next body paragraph(s) should delve into your perspectives, thoughts, and feelings during the situation. Be honest and transparent. It’s okay to include negatives like feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or disheartened. The purpose is to analyze your internal state at the time.

When writing your essay, think about questions like:

  • How did you feel when the IV insertion was not going smoothly? Nervous? Upset?
  • What thoughts were going through your mind after the first and second attempts?
  • How did the patient’s behavior influence your mindset or actions?

Paint a vivid picture of your mental and emotional state during the challenging experience. This provides crucial insight as you reflect.

Reflect on the Experience and What You Learned

The final body paragraph(s) should move into your reflections on the meaning of the experience. What did you learn? How did it impact you as a nurse? What would you do differently in the future?

Some reflection question prompts:

  • What insights did you gain about pediatric patients, procedures, or your own skills/mindset?
  • How did this experience inform your nursing practice or philosophy?
  • What can you learn from this situation to improve as a nurse in the future?

The reflections should include your analysis of how the situation contributed to your learning, growth, or understanding of nursing. Explain how it will shape your future clinical practice.

Additional Tips

  • Vary sentence structure and avoid repetition. Use transition words to connect ideas.
  • Write in first-person point of view using “I” statements.
  • Integrate personal examples and anecdotes to add color to your reflections.
  • End each paragraph with a reflective takeaway or insight statement.
  • Avoid generalizations – use specific details and examples.
  • Be introspective and honest about your thoughts at the time.
  • Keep the conclusion brief but impactful.
  • Use concise, summative language without new details.
  • Bring the arc of the essay to a close with forward momentum.
  • Leave the reader with a clear sense of your reflective takeaways.

Using these guidelines, you can craft detailed, insightful body paragraphs that provide a compelling window into your essay topic’s reflective process as a developing nurse. With rich description and thoughtful reflections, your essay will achieve its purpose of demonstrating your personal and professional growth.

Conclusion Paragraphs for Reflective Nursing Essays

The conclusion paragraph is your final opportunity to tie together the main ideas from the body paragraphs and reinforce your reflective insights. Here are some tips for writing a strong conclusion for your reflective nursing essay:

Summarize Key Reflections

Briefly restate the main reflective insights you shared in the body of the essay. This could include:

  • The key things you learned about nursing practice from the experience.
  • How the experience influenced your attitudes or philosophy as a nurse.
  • Ways your clinical skills or critical thinking improved.

Do not introduce any new ideas here. Just summarize the main takeaways using different wording.

Reiterate Growth and Commitment

Emphasize how you have grown professionally and personally. Affirm any commitments to apply what you have learned going forward. For example:

  • “This experience taught me the importance of staying calm under pressure as a nurse.”
  • “I will apply the IV insertion techniques I learned to ensure I do not make the same mistakes again.”

Show the reader how reflective practice has made you a better, more self-aware nurse.

End on a Forward-Looking Note

The conclusion should reinforce that you are looking ahead with new knowledge, capabilities and maturity. For instance:

  • “I will face my next pediatric patient with greater patience and sensitivity thanks to these lessons.”
  • “I am eager to continue learning from challenging nursing experiences.”

Concluding with optimism and commitment creates a sense of progression and development.

Reflective Nursing Essay Body Paragraph Example

Here’s a sample essay body paragraph for a reflective nursing essay:

Overcoming Pediatric IV Insertion Challenges: A Lesson in Patience and Adaptability

My first day in the pediatric unit was an eye-opening experience. I was assigned to care for a 10-year-old boy who needed an IV inserted before his scheduled surgery. As I gathered the necessary supplies, I felt nervous but confident in my skills. However, the procedure did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. 

The patient was visibly anxious and began crying and pulling away as I attempted the IV insertion. After two unsuccessful tries, I felt myself growing frustrated. I took a deep breath to stay calm, but my hands were shaking as I tried a third time. The patient's mother had to hold him still as he screamed and thrashed in fear. 

Though I eventually was able to get the IV sited, it was an upsetting experience for both myself and the patient. In the moment, I felt overwhelmed and disappointed in myself. The patient's reactions made me question my competence. I thought perhaps I had not sufficiently explained the procedure or established enough rapport. 

His obvious distress was difficult for me to witness. As a nurse, I want procedures to go smoothly and avoid causing further pain or turmoil for patients. However, this scenario reminded me that patients, especially children, can be unpredictable and have a wide range of responses. While I was frustrated at the time, I now realize this was an important lesson in patience and adaptability. Moving forward, I will take more time to listen to pediatric patients' concerns, gain their cooperation, and properly restrain or sedate if needed. 

Though not ideal, this incident helped develop my critical thinking and coping skills. The reflective writing process has allowed me to work through my emotions and find value in the growth opportunity this challenging IV insertion presented.

Final Thoughts

In reflective nursing essays, body paragraphs are essential for discussing personal experiences in nursing. These sections vividly recount specific situations, focusing on the writer’s actions and interactions within the nursing environment. Central to these paragraphs is a deep reflective analysis where the writer evaluates what they learned, how it changed their understanding of nursing, and the challenges faced. This introspection is linked to broader nursing theories and practices, illustrating the essay’s wider relevance.

Additionally, the writer contemplates personal growth and how these experiences will shape their future nursing practice. Despite the personal and emotional nature of these essays, maintaining a professional tone is crucial, balancing honest reflection with nursing ethics. This approach not only demonstrates the writer’s reflective skills but also their commitment to ongoing professional development in nursing.

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