Bioethics Blogs

The Value of Reflection in Clinical Teaching

By Patricia Stubenberg

“No words are ofterner on our lips than thinking and thought.”  – John Dewey

The teaching physician has opportunities for personal and professional growth through reflection and revisiting not only their own experiences in training and practice, but also their role as clinical teachers with medical students and residents.  Studies on reflection in teaching are abundant including, Freese’s work on Reframing One’s Teaching1, Dewey’s Art of Reflection2, and the theoretical underpinnings of reflective engagement, metacognition, and transformative learning.  The literature on reflection in clinical teaching is expanding through scholars including, Irby et al.3 and Sanders4.  This essay offers perspective on the value of reflective activity to advance medical education in training the next generation of physicians…

Reflective clinical teaching gains value through facilitating engaged conversation and higher-order thinking and considers a global picture of context, skills, and values to encourage personal and professional growth.  Qualitative research in medical education is one tool which can inspire conversation, through guided reflection, in developing feedback to guide teaching and practice.  The qualitative researcher who pursues meaning through one’s story can develop considerable thematic interpretations which can contribute to the value of a reflective clinical teaching framework:

  • The interview which sought meaning from a pediatric intensivist who speaks of a memorable moment when a first-year medical student shared in the emotional pain of a young burn patient and the student wanting to cut his hair and give it to the child.
  • The value of clinical teaching driven intrinsically from a private medical practice physicians’ passion for medicine and caring for the patient with unique conditions and who is alienated from society.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.