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12-11-2018 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2018 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 6/2018

Reflecting on what? The difficulty of noticing formative experiences in the moment

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 6/2018
Cheryl L. Holmes, Maria M. Hubinette, Malcolm Maclure, Harry Miller, Daniel Ting, Greg Costello, Melanie Reed, Glenn Regehr



In the spirit of enacting an educational model of guided, collective reflection to support positive professional identity construction in healthcare learners, we implemented a reflection-based course for medical students transitioning to clerkship with three goals: to sensitize learners to the hidden curriculum; to provide a safe and confidential forum to discuss their experiences; and to co-construct strategies to deal with the pressures in the clinical environment


We used a design-based research protocol. Twelve students participated in ten sessions starting during their transition to clerkship. Faculty debriefed after each session, adjusting the format of the subsequent sessions. Data included student logs, transcripts of the course sessions, faculty debriefings, and the course evaluation. Data were analyzed via an iterative process of independent coding and discussion.


The main adjustments to the course were to eliminate didactic content in favour of using prompts prior to course sessions and de-emphasizing written reflection. Participants felt the course achieved its three goals and students reported enhanced resiliency during transition to clerkship, although, despite prompting, students offered no examples of their joining in with the negative behaviours around them.


The course was successful in its key objectives. However, a key aspect of reflection, students noticing their own behaviour in the moment as something that needs to be reflected on, was challenging. Future research exploring the value of reflection as an intervention to redress the unwanted aspects of the hidden curriculum might focus on efforts to move the students to explicitly explore the enculturation process in themselves.
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