This perspective article provides a justification for and an overview of the use of narrative as a pedagogical tool for educators to help physical therapist students, residents, and clinicians develop skills of reflection and reflexivity in clinical practice. The use of narratives is a pedagogical approach that provides a reflective and interpretive framework for analyzing and making sense of texts, stories, and other experiences within learning environments. This article describes reflection as a well-established method to support critical analysis of clinical experiences; to assist in uncovering different perspectives of patients, families, and health care professionals involved in patient care; and to broaden the epistemological basis (ie, sources of knowledge) for clinical practice. The article begins by examining how phronetic (ie, practical and contextual) knowledge and ethical knowledge are used in physical therapy to contribute to evidence-based practice. Narrative is explored as a source of phronetic and ethical knowledge that is complementary but irreducible to traditional objective and empirical knowledge-the type of clinical knowledge that forms the basis of scientific training. The central premise is that writing narratives is a cognitive skill that should be learned and practiced to develop critical reflection for expert practice.
The article weaves theory with practical application and strategies to foster narrative in education and practice. The final section of the article describes the authors’ experiences with examples of integrating the tools of narrative into an educational program, into physical therapist residency programs, and into a clinical practice.