The very concept of a nursing career can provide an array of topics for a reflective essay, even at the very start of such a career. The nursing profession provides a multidimensional career experience, incorporating both rewarding and challenging experiences that offer many opportunities for reflection and thus many foundations for reflective essays.
Even someone still in nursing school can look to past experience and write a reflective essay on the motivation behind choosing nursing a career. A nursing school student could also write a reflective essay on identifying an appropriate nursing school; on anything learnt thus far in terms of patient service principles; or on what form of nursing the individual nursing student hopes to enter after graduation and his or her reasons for that choice. A mid-career nurse might want to write a reflective essay on any memorable patient experiences and why they qualified as memorable, even if those reasons involved adverse situations such as medical errors or loss of terminally injured or ill patients. A planned career direction change also makes a good basis for a reflective essay on nursing--perhaps changing to a different speciality or taking a less commonly held position such as county nurse or hospice care.
Many different kinds of issues in nursing can provide the foundation for reflective essays. Such issues can involve dealing with patients, colleagues, aides and even non-medical staff such as administrative personnel and custodial staff. Consider your personal experience for reference points such as unexpected help from nonmedical staff with a particular patient; conflict with overbearing physicians or notable successes in such a doctor-patient team effort.
Consider, if you have had the opportunity for one or more encounters, using the work of the hospital chaplain and/or visiting clergy as the basis of a reflective essay about how such encounters have impacted your own nursing efforts. If you have worked in the emergency department, consider a memorable encounter, or more than one, with the ambulance medics and how it connects you to your patients and to others who have different sets of skills.
Challenges within the nursing profession also offer the opportunity to create a reflective essay. You could focus your essay on such problems as burnout, understaffing, fair management of holiday rotations and even considerations such as concerns over the risk of injury or illness arising from your nursing activities. After all, Naomi Judd of country music fame, and formerly a nurse, contracted a very serious form of hepatitis during her nursing career, and used that as a foundation for intense spiritual reflection when the disorder forced her to retire from performing.
Medical issues can provide the foundation for an essay either on a practical or philosophical level. Such themes as end-of-life considerations or holistic practices that incorporate a mind-body-spirit philosophy can serve as the basis of a reflective essay. On the practical level, such concerns as drug errors and working toward fall prevention in at-risk patients can provide a means to reflect on ways of preventing or improving current protocols.