Background and objectives: Reflection after patient encounters is an important aspect of clinical learning. After our medical school instituted a reflection paper assignment for all clerkships, we wanted to learn about the types of encounters that students found meaningful on a family medicine clerkship and how they impacted students' learning.
Methods: Family and Community Medicine Clerkship students completed a reflection paper after the clerkship, based on guidelines that were used for all clerkship reflection papers at our medical school. Two reviewers independently organized student responses into themes and then jointly prioritized common themes and negotiated any initial differences into other themes.
Results: A total of 272 reflection papers describing an actual learning moment in patient care were submitted during the study period of January 2011--December 2012. In describing actions performed, students most frequently wrote about aspects of patient-centered care such as listening to the patient, carefully assessing the patient's condition, or giving a detailed explanation to the patient. In describing effects of those actions, students wrote about what they learned about the patient-physician interaction, the trust that patients demonstrated in them, the approval they gained from their preceptors, and the benefits they saw from their actions.
Conclusions: An important contribution of a family medicine clerkship is the opportunity for students to further their skills in patient-centered care and realize the outcomes of providing that type of care.