Reflection for medical undergraduate: learning to take the initiative to look back to go forward

Mohamed H. Ahmed


Perhaps reflection can be dated to early days of the appearance of humanity in this universe. This can be seen in the Egyptian and Sudanese Nubian pyramids, which contain a lot of photos and stories of events that have significant and meaningful messages. Different definitions of reflection can be found in the literature. Perhaps all these definitions aim to encourage health professionals to use reflection to make sense of the entire situation of events in their daily practice. Reflection as a subject needs to be taught not only for undergraduate medical students but also for basic scientists and clinical staff. This because reflection was shown to promote deep learning, increase core medical knowledge and enhance the therapeutic relationship with patients. Also, reflection represents a core part of many learning theories like transforming learning theory, motivational models, reflective models, Bloom’s taxonomy, Miller’s pyramid and the adult learning model. Despite all these benefits of reflection, one problem with reflection is the low engagement of medical undergraduates in reflection. This narrative review will discuss the following (I) different definitions of reflection; (II) the importance of reflection in medical education; (III) common problems with implementations of reflection; and (IV) how to encourage undergraduate medical students to engage in reflection.