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Tenses

Reflective writing often requires movement between past and present tenses, depending on whether you are recounting the actual events or making a more general comment (for example, on the doctor-patient relationship, or on an aspect of your current course).

Generally, when recounting a particular experience or incident, past tense is used.

Example 1

As part of my placement at the Echuca Base Hospital I worked closely with the nursing staff. I was impressed by the rapport they had with their patients – while performing their duties professionally they often joked with the patients, and in that way maintained a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere on the ward. I noticed that the nurses had more regular contact with patients than the doctors, and consequently seemed to develop a closer relationship.

Example 2

When two of the patients became agitated I did not know what to do. I asked them to return to their beds, but they simply ignored me. I did not know what the correct procedure was in this situation.

When making a general comment, or relating an incident to current practice or to a particular theoretical perspective, present tense is normally used.

Example 3

It seems that the roles of nurses and doctors are quite different, and that doctors need to acknowledge the importance of the nurse-patient relationship.

Example 4

Clearly making new staff aware of the procedures and rules is important when they join a new workplace or institution.

Continue Example 4 by linking what you have learnt from an incident directly to how you plan to behave in your future career. Try adding 1 or 2 more sentences to Example 4.

Clearly making new staff aware of the procedures and rules is important when they join a new workplace or institution.

Feedback:

It's always good to stop and reflect on what you have written. Have your views been affected by your personal or professional experiences? Think about your use of tenses. Check that you have written your reflections in a non-judgemental way.

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