Matern Child Health J 2020 Jun;24(6):679-686
Department of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Introduction: Clinical experiences expose learners to the patient perspective, which can have a lasting impact on students' professional identity. However, in busy clinical settings where opportunities for reflection may be limited, listening to patients' stories is often neglected. We used a reflection assignment to augment a new maternal-child health integrated curriculum.
Methods: Medical students completed a brief assignment from their session in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which included reflective writing, between fall 2016 and summer 2017. The Depth of Reflection rubric was used to score reflections on a scale: "Knowledge and Comprehension" (Level I), "Analysis" (Level II), and "Synthesis and Evaluation" (Level III). A constant comparison method based on grounded theory elicited prenatal and postnatal themes from medical students' reflective writing.
Results: All students completed narratives (n = 166); 70% (n = 116) achieved a Depth of Reflection of Level II or III. Six overarching themes emerged: (1) Conception, Pregnancy, and Delivery Experiences; (2) Positive Support Structures; (3) Barriers and Stressors to Care; (4) Future Plans; (5) Unexpected Complications; and (6) Student Career and Professional Considerations.
Discussion: Reflections from a novel and brief integrated maternal-child health experience demonstrated high levels on the Depth of Reflection scale. This experience exposed students to core themes central to a family's pregnancy and perinatal experience. Professional identity formation also emerged as a theme. Reflective writing assignments in a busy NICU can facilitate exploration of medical students' knowledge of maternal-child health patient experiences.