'The loss of my elderly patient:' Interactive reflective writing to support medical students' rites of passage

Hedy S. Wald, Shmuel P. Reis, Alicia D. Monroe, Jeffrey M. Borkan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background: The fostering of reflective capacity within medical education helps develop critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills and enhances professionalism. Use of reflective narratives to augment reflective practice instruction is well documented. Aim: At Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University (Alpert Med), a narrative medicine curriculum innovation of students' reflective writing (field notes) with individualized feedback from an interdisciplinary faculty team (in pre-clinical years) has been implemented in a Doctoring course to cultivate reflective capacity, empathy, and humanism. Interactive reflective writing (student writer/faculty feedback provider dyad), we propose, can additionally support students with rites of passage at critical educational junctures. Method: At Alpert Med, we have devised a tool to guide faculty in crafting quality feedback, i.e. the Brown Educational Guide to Analysis of Narrative (BEGAN) which includes identifying students' salient quotes, utilizing reflection-inviting questions and close reading, highlighting derived lessons/key concepts, extracting clinical patterns, and providing concrete recommendations as relevant. Results: We provide an example of a student's narrative describing an emotionally powerful and meaningful event the loss of his first patient and faculty responses using BEGAN. Conclusion: The provision of quality feedback to students' reflective writing supported by BEGAN can facilitate the transformation of student to professional through reflection within medical education.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)e178-e184
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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