Reflection and critical thinking are linked.
A person’s capacity for reflection is connected to their critical thinking skills. It has been shown that people can build their critical thinking skills by engaging in repeated reflection.1,2,3 For example, medical students and physicians who have developed their reflective capacity are better prepared to respond in difficult or morally ambiguous circumstances,4 are less prone to errors caused by overconficence,5 are lifelong learners,6 and demonstrate improved diagnostic accuracy in challenging cases.2
Writing improves your reflective capacity.
Some of the assignments in this course were examples of reflective writing. I hope you will continue reflecting on your experiences through writing. For this assignment, you will do a SWOT analysis. SWOT is another tool for reflection and self-assessment.
SWOT analysis is a business tool for strategic planning. It is a framework for analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for a project, proposal, or goal. It helps the users identify a strategy for moving forward- a strategy for achieving goals. In this assignment, you will complete a SWOT analysis of your career goal. To achieve your career goal, you will need to maximize your strengths, improve your weaknesses, minimize the threats, and take advantage of opportunities.
· What do you do better than others?
· What unique capabilities do you possess?
· What do other perceive as your strengths?
· What do your peers do better than you?
· What can you improve?
· What do other perceive as your weaknesses?
· What conditions positively impact you?
· What are your available resources?
· What conditions negatively impact you?
· What are your peers/friends/family doing that may impact you?
Typically, when doing a SWOT analysis, you would make a 2×2 grid, like the grid pictured above. But for the sake of this assignment, I will walk you through a SWOT analysis by asking you a series of questions. Please provide a brief explanation for each of the 16 questions listed below. Although your answers can be brief, use complete sentences. Many of the questions are similar, yet distinct. Thus, I recommend you read all of the questions in a section prior to answering them.
Your SWOT analysis will be based on your current career goal. It is perfectly OK if you are uncertain of your goal. You will be able to complete this assignment even if you do not yet have a goal because most employers and admissions committees are looking for the same skills and characteristics (i.e., time management, teamwork, ability to learn and be trained, critical thinking, communication, problem solving, navigating change, etc.).
1. Wald, Borkan, Taylor, Anthony, and Reis. Fostering and Evaluating Reflective Capacity in Medical Education: Developing the REFLECT Rubric for Assessing Reflective Writing. Acad Med. 2012; 87:41–50.
2. Mamede S, Schmidt HG, Penaforte JC. Effects of reflective practice on the accuracy of medical diagnoses. Med Educ. 2008;42: 468–475.
3. Driessen E, van Tartwijk J, Dornan T. The self-critical doctor: Helping students become more reflective. BMJ. 2008;336:827–830.
4. Bryan CS, Babelay AM. Building character: A model for reflective practice. Acad Med. 2009; 84:1283–1288.
5. Berner ES, Graber ML. Overconfidence as a cause of diagnostic error in medicine. Am J Med. 2008;121(5 suppl):S2–S23.
6. Sandars J. The use of reflection in medical education: AMEE guide no. 44. Med Teach. 2009;31:685–695.
7. K. Brooks. A Strategy for Writing the Dreaded Cover Letter. Psychology Today (2001)
1. Describe your current career goal and why you have chosen that career. If you are uncertain of your goal, simply describe where you currently are in your path towards identifying a career.
(Internal factors that may positively impact your goal)
2. What are your major achievements?
3. Describe one thing that you do better than others?
4. What do you perceive as your strengths, in general?
5. Which of your specific talents fit well with your career goal?
6. Describe one thing you could do to build on a strength.
(Internal factors that may negatively impact your goal)
6. What do your peers do better than you?
7. What can you improve? (Even if you do something better than your peers, it still might be a weakness for you.)
8. What do others perceive as your weaknesses, in general?
9. What concerns would an employer or admissions committee have about you?
10. Describe one thing you could do to strengthen one of your weaknesses.
(External factors that may positively impact your goal)
11. What conditions positively impact you? (Ex. a supportive family, a convenient on-campus job, friends who are a good influence, etc.)
12. What are the available resources that might help you achieve your goal? (Ex. MSU Career Service, your advisor, a Help Room, a student club, your pediatrician who will let you shadow, etc.)
13. Describe one thing you will do to take advantage of an opportunity.
(External factors that may negatively impact your goal)
13. What conditions negatively impact you? (Ex. financial pressures, distractions, lack of motivation, a time-consuming job, etc.)
14. What are your peers, friends, or family doing that may impact you negatively?
15. Describe one thing you will do to minimize one of the threats.
Applying the SWOT analysis
16. Ideally, a gap year experience should strengthen your applications to future jobs or academic programs. In other words, an ideal gap year experience should strengthen one of your weaknesses. Select one of the weaknesses that you mentioned in questions 6-9. Describe a gap year experience that might address the weakness.
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