Summary In this paper we reflect on a quality activity undertaken with students enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing course who were required to write a 3000-word reflective paper for a unit called ‘Nursing People Experiencing Long Term Illnesses.’ Students were required to select one chronic illness from a list of five suggested by the teaching team. Having made their choice, they developed their paper in two parts. Students were first required to briefly discuss the pathophysiology of the illness, and its psychosocial effects on the individual and family. Second, they were required to use a model of reflection to discuss how knowledge they gained could be applied when working with a person with this condition, within the hospital and the community. Highlighted in this paper are the voices of 10 students who accepted an invitation to be involved in a focus group discussion which elicited their views, experiences and concerns regarding this assessment. Analysis revealed that students found the assignment topic to be challenging, rewarding and an appropriate vehicle to unveil what they learned. However, completion of the assessment was not without its difficulties. In this paper, insights gained in using this teaching and learning strategy are shared.