Open Access Research article

We lived and breathed medicine - then life catches up: Medical students’ reflections

Mia Hemborg Kristiansson*, Margareta Troein and Annika Brorsson

Author Affiliations

Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Malmö, Family Medicine, Jan Waldenströmsgata 35, SE 205 02, Malmö, Sweden

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:66  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-66

Published: 1 April 2014



Reflective writing enhances personal and professional development. It is essential for the teachers to be familiar with the students’ perceptions to improve the students’ learning. Our aim was to deepen the understanding of the medical students’ perceptions of the studies and the coming profession.


Our theoretical perspective is constructivist, based upon the relativist view that individuals construct realities to understand and navigate the world. Constructivist methodologies are hermeneutic, with the focus on understanding rather than explaining. Thirty-five written reflections were collected in the first and fifth semesters at Lund University Medical School, Sweden. We used a thematic analysis, close to editing style analysis, inspired by K Malterud, who has modified Giorgi’s phenomenological method.


For first-semester students the focus is on studies and methods to structure them. The fifth semester is permeated by strategies for achieving a sense of ‘good enough’, qualities of a good doctor and applicability. Clinical placement as a motivating element is important for both semesters.


A sense of ‘good enough’ is crucial for students to get by. Reflective writing can illuminate the strategies for achieving this. Clinical placement is vital for motivation.