Reflective narrations serve many purposes in residents’ education. Firstly, by reflecting on what has been learned and how this learning is being applied to practice, residents and their tutors can identify knowledge gaps and other learning needs, and develop a learning plan that could help meet those needs.
Secondly, self-reflection and critical incident reports allow residents realize how these events are influencing their present and future practice.
Finally, by reading residents’ narrations teachers are able to better understand the resident’s thinking process, and how he/she arrived to a conclusion or made a mistake.
Every day, after they have finished their rotation shift, residents in our department reflect on and write a brief narration describing the 2 or 3 most important concepts they consider they have learned that day at the clinic or in the operating room. We have recently migrated from a paper form to a Google docs Spreadsheet, which has the advantage that residents can write as much as they need, and we teachers can read narrations from home at our convenience. The document includes columns for date, rotation, teacher or book where they got the information, teacher’s or program director’s comments and resident’s response, and it is included in the resident’s learning portfolio.
We have found this online “Daily Learning Form” (as we call it) user-friendly and very convenient for all participants involved, for it combines the benefits of mental reflection and web-based teaching.