Reflection is the ability to critically analyse what you have done with a view to improve practice in the future. The ultimate aim of reflection is to improve professional practice, both the process and the result can contribute significantly to clinical wisdom.
It’s a surgically relevant skill you can improve and use throughout your career.
Reflecting on your work
In the following video Lisa Hadfield-Law, BOA Education Adviser, offers some insights on the importance of reflection skills and how to put them into practice effectively.
Frequently asked questions
- Drive learning
- Demonstrate proficiency
Reflection can refer to a number of different processes from thinking back over events on the way home from work to formal journals to drive learning and assessment.
Effective reflection is of course reliant on accurate self assessment. It is well recognised that the least able trainees are the least able to accurately self assess. (Coltart et al 2008). Such shortfalls in competence can be identified and managed sooner rather than later.
Interestingly, more junior trainees are engaging better with the process, perhaps because reflection is so firmly embedded in the Foundation e-Portfolio (Goodyear et al 2013).
Describe the event in less than 200 words, which can be a challenge but really helps you focus your mind on the most important aspects of the clinical situation.
Consider your role and what you did:
- What did you do well?
- What could you do differently next time to achieve a better outcome?
Be as balanced as you can be with this section. You don’t need to identify everything, just a couple of the most important elements of each.
What have you learned about yourself as a surgeon? Consider linking this to your job specification or curriculum if you are a trainee.
What is the next step of development in this area for you? If you have found a learning gap, it is often tempting to plan to attend a course to fill it. Consider other more effective and efficient options.
What Others Say about Reflection
Reflection has enlightened my surgical practice. I was a committed sceptic. I was one of those who said ‘well I do this all the time anyway’ – only later realising that I was ruminating or justifying.
Lisa was extremely helpful whilst I learned about reflecting on practice Her feedback about the content and style were very useful and it was a real pleasure to work with her. I can thoroughly recommend her.
All I needed was a framework for approaching reflection. How to create reflective pieces that fit in with the qualities of a good doctor.
Reflection on our work is not only a vital development tool for an educator but it some form of formal reflection is going to be required of us for revalidation so it will be a good time to start.