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How do veterinary students engage when reflecting on their development towards being veterinary surgeons?

Armitage-Chan, E; Reissner, S


E Armitage-Chan

S Reissner


Background Reflection has been widely acknowledged to contribute to professional development, the ability to manage tension and enhanced resilience. However, many practitioners struggle to reflect productively due to a lack of clarity of what constitutes effective reflection.

Methods To help develop reflective competence among future professionals, 30 veterinary students’ reflective assignments were analysed by thematic text analysis. Theoretical frameworks were based on published criteria for critical and core reflection.

Results Reflection was described through resources (the tools used), practices (the ways of using these tools) and outcomes (what was achieved). This helped to distinguish simple skills based reflection from higher-level core reflection. Simple skills-based reflection was associated with an identity of expert learner: students perceive that their task is to identify a knowledge deficit that can be easily rectified through new learning. Core reflection was associated with students articulating an identity of adaptable professionals: rather than veterinary challenges being resolved simply through application of a body of knowledge, wider complexities of professional practice are recognised, including a need to resolve tension between their own and other stakeholders’ priorities, values and beliefs.

Conclusion Scaffolding an iterative, cyclical reflection process may support outcomes oriented towards resilience and the management of tension.


Armitage-Chan, E., & Reissner, S. (2020). How do veterinary students engage when reflecting on their development towards being veterinary surgeons?. Veterinary Record, 187(9), e77-e77.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 9, 2020
Publication Date Apr 17, 2020
Deposit Date Nov 19, 2020
Publicly Available Date Apr 18, 2021
Journal Veterinary Record
Print ISSN 0042-4900
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 187
Issue 9
Pages e77-e77
Public URL
Publisher URL