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Reflecting on practice

Reflection is an essential element of professional practice. Learning from experience is as much about the construction of what has happened as it is about the experience itself. Reflective practice is a process of analysing one’s experiences and identifying opportunities for further improvement. An important aspect of reflective practice is that it involves much more than simply describing what happened in a specific situation, the events that occurred during the course of a clinical day or whatever the particular focus for reflection might be. It requires the conscious examination of experience with a concerted attempt to make professional sense of what has been learned and the application of this knowledge to future practice.

There are various models of reflective practice which can be used to �draw out� what can be learned from experience. However, some basic principles are:

  • recognizing opportunities for reflection on practice (eg. an aspect of practice, incident that occurred, situation experienced etc.)
  • describing the experience (including what happened, who was involved, related thoughts, feeling and emotions etc.)
  • connecting the experience with relevant theoretical knowledge, other personal/professional experiences you have had etc.
  • understanding the experience from these perspectives
  • using what you have learned to improve your practice in the future.

Reflecting (Video 28)

Thinking points

For Students

Use this video as a trigger for group discussion and/or personal reflection on the process of reflecting on practice. As you watch the video some key points to think about are:

  • identifying opportunities for reflection as part of clinical practice
  • describing the main elements of a practice experience
  • explaining what was significant about the experience using relevant theory and/or personal experience etc.
  • identifying how you will use your reflection to improve your practice in the future

For clinical staff

Use this video as a trigger for discussion with your colleagues and/or personal reflection on the process of helping students develop their skills for reflecting on practice in the health workplace.

Key points to reflect on include:

  • like critical thinking, reflection is a high level cognitive skill with which we become more skilled over time
  • being aware of the power of positive role modelling for students
  • the importance of higher level questions to promote reflective thinking
  • being aware of your own reflective thinking processes and how you use the outcomes for professional/personal development
  • the effect of factors such as context, prior experience etc. on student anxiety and performance.