The individual in the system: the role of affect in recent veterinary graduates’ reflective activity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The transition to professional practice can be a challenging time. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) Professional Development Phase (PDP) aims to support recent graduates through this transition, with graduates required to reflect on their experiences. This study drew on the concept of “lived experience” to explore the influence of affect (feelings, emotions and mood) on recent graduates’ experience of reflective activity.

Data comprised semi‐structured interviews with 15 recent graduates from one veterinary school. Thematic analysis was used to explore the influence of three aspects of affect on reflective activity: affective valence (whether a chosen action is anticipated to result in positive or negative feelings), tacit aspects (such as tiredness) and perceptions of workplace mood.

Participants preferred to engage in activities associated with positive feelings. Tacit feelings, such as panic or tiredness, and perceptions of workplace mood, influenced how and with whom participants engaged in reflective activity. Participants often made different choices when reflecting primarily on affective compared to clinical aspects of situations.

These findings suggest that acknowledging and understanding aspects of affect during the professional development phase has the potential to help the profession improve support for recent graduates.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Record
Early online date18 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was undertaken as part of a Doctorate in Education at the University of Bristol. The author would like to thank Dr Sue Timmis for her patient supervision and the participants in the study for their time and insightful discussions. The financial support of the University of Bristol (University Teaching Fellowship) and Bristol Veterinary School is acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 British Veterinary Association


  • Reflection
  • Affect
  • Emotion
  • Graduate Support
  • Perezhivanie
  • Cultural-historical activity theory
  • Lived experience


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