How to Write a Reflective Essay Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is one of the most important parts of a reflective nursing essay. Your thesis conveys the main lesson and insight you gained from an impactful experience. This guide will walk you through crafting an excellent reflective nursing essay thesis and provide an example you can reference.

What Is a Reflection Nursing Essay Thesis?

A reflective nursing essay thesis is a concise, focused statement that summarizes the main point you learned from reflecting on an experience in nursing school or practice. An effective thesis should:

  • Express the key takeaway, realization, or growth you gained
  • Establish the main theme and purpose of your reflective essay
  • Be specific, focused, and highlighted in the essay introduction

Your thesis will guide the body paragraphs as you analyze how the experience shaped your perceptions, actions, skills, and development as a nurse. The thesis ties your essay together into a meaningful reflection.

How to Write a Reflective Paper and Format It Correctly

When writing a reflective essay, follow these key steps:

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  1. Choose an impactful nursing experience to reflect on
  2. Analyze your thoughts, feelings, actions, and what you learned
  3. Connect insights to nursing concepts like care, ethics, modes of healing
  4. Explain how the experience affected your growth and perspectives
  5. Recap your reflection in a conclusion
  6. Proofread and edit your essay

Use the standard essay format with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Adhere to the assigned nursing essay style like APA or AMA.

Reflective Nursing Essay Thesis Outline: Paper Structure

A reflective nursing essay combines personal experience with professional insights, and its structure is key to effectively conveying your reflections and learnings. Here’s an essay outline focusing on the thesis and how it integrates into the overall paper structure:

How to Start a Reflective Essay?


  • Hook – Start with an interesting fact, statement, or question
  • Background on the experience
  • Thesis statement – 1-2 sentences summarizing your key insight or lesson learned

How to Formulate a Strong Thesis Statement?

Here are examples of reflective nursing essay theses:

  • Comforting a grieving patient after a miscarriage taught me the importance of emotional care in nursing.
  • Witnessing a medical error as a nursing student underscored the significance of practicing safely and asking questions.
  • My experience in the COVID ICU revealed how crisis situations push nurses to their limits yet bring out their best.
  • Seeing a wound get infected revealed gaps in my sterile technique that I aimed to improve through practice and education.

Writing the Main Body

Body paragraphs:

  • Describe the setting, people, actions, and emotions experienced
  • Analyze your initial thoughts, assumptions, feelings, and response
  • Explain how the experience shaped your nursing knowledge, skills, perspectives
  • Connect insights concretely to key concepts covered in nursing school

How to Conclude a Reflective Essay?

The conclusion of your reflective nursing essay thesis serves as the final piece of the puzzle, bringing your reflection full circle. In the essay conclusion, you should:

  • Restate your thesis and the main points about your lessons learned
  • Describe how you will apply these lessons to become a better nurse
  • Underscore the importance of reflective practice in nursing

Choosing a Good Reflective Nursing Essay Thesis Topic

Pick an impactful clinical or work experience in nursing to reflect on. Here are some essay topic ideas:

Significant Places and Events

  • Your first day in a hospital intensive care unit
  • A memorable encounter with a psychiatric patient
  • Comforting a child patient through a procedure
  • Your final preceptorship capstone rotation
  • A serious medical error you witnessed
  • A memorable experience during clinical rotations.
  • A challenging situation that pushed your boundaries as a nurse.
  • A critical incident that had a profound impact on your practice.

Personal Reflective Essay Ideas

  • Realizing your bedside manner needed work
  • Handling ethical dilemmas as a new nurse
  • Overcoming a fear or phobia in nursing school
  • Fighting nurse burnout and rediscovering your purpose
  • Learning the value of teamwork through a group project
  • Reflecting on the values and beliefs that guide your nursing practice.
  • Analyzing your professional growth and how it has shaped your nursing career.
  • Exploring the role of empathy and communication in nursing.

Choose a meaningful experience that gave you insight into nursing practice.

Helpful Tips for Writing a Reflective Nursing Essay Thesis

Keep these tips in mind when drafting a reflective nursing thesis:

  • Make your thesis specific, focused, and clearly worded
  • Have your thesis highlight the main “aha” moment or lesson learned
  • State your thesis early in the introduction to establish intent
  • Let your thesis guide the content of your body paragraphs
  • Make sure your essay supports and reflects your thesis
  • Revise your thesis if needed as your essay develops
  • Your thesis should resonate with your personal experiences and reflections.
  • Feedback can offer a fresh perspective and enhance the depth of your thesis.
  • Ensure that all information is de-identified to maintain confidentiality.

Reflective Nursing Essay Thesis Example

Here is an example of a reflective nursing essay thesis (in bold):

How My First Shift in the ER Transformed My Views on Nursing


My first shift in the fast-paced ER was intensely challenging. Though the 12-hour shift stretched my stamina and skills, it taught me the importance of staying calm, decisive, and adaptable in dynamic healthcare settings. These lessons shaped me into a more confident, resilient nurse.

Body Paragraph 1

I always pictured the ER as chaotic and was anxious to experience it myself. Once my preceptor and I rushed to a trauma patient, my assumptions were confirmed. With a car crash victim moaning in pain, doctors barking orders, and monitors beeping loudly, I felt overwhelmed. Though I wanted to flee the commotion, I took deep breaths and focused on the present moment...


My ER rotation tested my nerves but equipped me to perform well under pressure. I learned to regulate my emotions, focus amid chaos, and adapt quickly to changing conditions. This experience transformed me into a decisive, steady nurse who thrives in fast-paced healthcare environments. I am grateful for the lessons which will make me a better nurse.

Reflective Nursing Essay Thesis: Final Thoughts

A thesis for a reflective nursing essay is central to conveying your personal experiences and insights in the field, focusing on how these experiences have influenced your professional practice and perspective. It should intertwine introspective reflection with an understanding of nursing principles, highlighting your professional development and growth.

This thesis sets the tone for the essay, guiding the reflective analysis to ensure that your narrative is not only deeply personal but also professionally relevant, demonstrating the integration of theoretical knowledge with practical experience in your ongoing journey in nursing.

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