Bringing Our Whole Person to Whole Person Care: Fostering Reflective Capacity with Interactive Reflective Writing in Health Professions Education

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Grayson A Armstrong
Aaron Kofman
Joanna J Sharpless
David Anthony
Hedy S Wald


Reflective learning and practice foster personal, professional, and interprofessional identity development within health professions education to encourage humanistic, competent patient care. Reflection on experience nurtures mindful presence and adaptive expertise/”practical wisdom,” enabling the health care professional to recognize and address patients’ and families’ emotional, psychosocial, cultural, and spiritual needs for optimizing whole person care (WPC). By heightening awareness of strengths, values, biases, and/or limitations, reflection also helps the provider bring more of his/her “whole person” to WPC, strengthening the provider-patient therapeutic relationship (reciprocity for healing). The use of reflective writing (RW) to augment reflective practice is well documented. RW in the small group setting fosters narrative competence (hearing/responding to a patient’s story, awareness of one’s own stories), self-assessment, moral sensitivity, empathy, emotional processing, and provider well-being. At Alpert Med, we have implemented an “interactive reflective writing” (IRW) paradigm of guided individualized feedback from interdisciplinary faculty to students’ RW in a Doctoring course and Family Medicine clerkship (with small group peer-based narrative sharing and collaborative feedback). Frameworks for enhancing educational value of feedback (BEGAN and REFLECT-reflective level evaluation rubric) were developed, incorporated into student and faculty guides, and applied in faculty development.

INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES: 1) Participants will be familiarized with constructs of reflective learning/practice and IRW, 2) Participants will apply BEGAN and REFLECT to a student’s reflective essay as exemplar, 3) Participants will engage in interactive dialogue with medical student presenters on positive learning outcomes of IRW for WPC 4) Participants will consider and share merits, limitations, and possible utility of presented curricula/evaluative tools for their settings. 


1. Didactic - Reflective Learning/Practice for WPC

2. Participants provide feedback to student’s RW

3. Discussion

4. Introduce BEGAN/REFLECT frameworks

5. Participants re-craft feedback with frameworks/Discuss

6. Student/faculty presenters share experiences of IRW pedagogy for fostering reflection and WPC

7. Wrap-up/Q and A.

Article Details

How to Cite
Armstrong, G. A., Kofman, A., Sharpless, J. J., Anthony, D., & Wald, H. S. (2014). Bringing Our Whole Person to Whole Person Care: Fostering Reflective Capacity with Interactive Reflective Writing in Health Professions Education. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 1(1).
Congress 2013