Ever thought how an experience has improved your practice? Ever felt stressed because things aren’t working out as expected?

Using Experience for Growth

Learning from experience is as much about our construction of what has happened, as it is about our engagement in it. Thinking back on experiences, and carefully re-evaluating them, is an essential part of personal and professional development. Importantly, reflective practice goes beyond simply ‘recalling the events of the day’. It involves the conscious examination of experience and requires a concerted attempt to ‘make professional sense’ of what has been learned.

A good way to reflect on experience is to use a framework that prompts deep and purposeful thinking about what happened. The 5Rs of the reflection (Bain et al 2002) is one such framework. The five elements of this framework are Reporting, Responding, Reasoning, Relating and Reconstructing. View examples of questions to ask yourself based on the 5Rs. When used effectively, reflection can facilitate significant personal and/or professional growth.


  • what happened, what did the situation involve?
  • who was involved?
  • what seems significant to pay attention to?


  • what worked well? how do I know it worked well?
  • what worked least well? why do I think that?
  • how did I feel, and what made me feel that way? how were others feeling, and what made them feel that way?
  • how did I respond emotionally / personally / behaviourally to the situation?


  • what body/-ies of knowledge are relevant - and in what ways?
  • how does this connect with other personal / professional experiences I have had - and in what way/s?


  • what is my explanation for what happened, and on what is it based?


  • what conclusions can I draw? How do I justify these?
  • with hindsight, would I do something differently next time and why?
  • what has this taught me about my practice? about myself?
  • how will I use this experience to further improve my practice in the future?

Watch this short video about a reflective interaction between a nursing student and workplace supervisor . While watching the video, think about the 5Rs and what, if anything, you would do differently in this situation?

Reflection is a powerful tool that, when used effectively, can facilitate significant personal and/or professional growth.