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What is reflective practice and how do I do it?

Answer

Reflective practice is a process by which you: stop and think about your practice, consciously analyse your decision making and draw on theory and relate it to what you do in practice.

Critical analysis and evaluation refocuses your thinking on your existing knowledge and helps generate new knowledge and ideas. As a result, you may modify your actions, behaviour, treatments and learning needs.

Make time to write down your reflections, as this process often helps clarify thoughts. This will also give you some written evidence to share with others at a later date. If you need help doing this, read on.

How do I do reflective practice?

Different methods can be used for reflective practice:

  • Keep your own diary or journal is an easy way to get started.
  • Try working on it with your colleagues, doing peer review, clinical supervision or mentoring.
  • Use support tools to help you reflect on significant incidents from practice

Keeping a diary, journal or blog

Done over a period of time that you choose to set aside about experiences that you choose to focus on eg:

  • a particular patient population or clinical area
  • use of a particular type of treatment
  • involvement in a particular project

The contents will depend on what you want to clarify about your practice but need only be brief notes to allow for reflection at a later stage.

Significant incident analysis

Capture learning from ad hoc experiences in a clinical or non-clinical environment. You can also review completed reflections together as a set to identify any patterns or trends in your practice not immediately obvious from just looking at one reflection.

Peer review, clinical supervision and mentoring

Use peers and experienced colleagues to help you review your practice, capture what you have learned from your experiences, and demonstrate your learning and its impact on your practice.

Reflective practice also works at an organisational level and can help facilitate insights that might otherwise be missed. Progress to some group peer review when you feel confident to do so.

Sharing your reflections with others is encouraged as:

  • you share your experiences and learning with others, so they can learn from you
  • another's thoughts about your experience can help you to draw out more from the experience
  • another's point of view takes away some of the subjectivity of reflective practice

What next?

Some suggestions:

  • find out and read about different reflective models and tools via the CSP library catalogue
  • decide what methods you want to use and begin recording your learning from experiences
  • use CSP support tools for reflective practice, eg proformas, ePortfolio, outcomes model
  • develop links with colleagues to discuss reflective practice together (either within your organisation or using other professional or clinical networks)
  • read more about reflective practice and work based learning
  • read more about clinical supervision
  • read more about mentoring