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Why is Reflective Practice Important in Healthcare?

INTRODUCTION

The ability to become reflective in practice has become a necessary skill for health professionals. This is to ensure that health professionals are continuing with their daily learning and improving their practice. Reflective practice plays a big part in healthcare today and is becoming increasingly noticed. This assignment aims to address the definition of reflective practice, advantages and disadvantages associated, implications of reflective practice and how to improve reflection within healthcare.

What is reflective practice?

Reflective practice has been identified as one of the key ways in which we can learn from our experiences. Reflective practice means taking our experiences as a starting point for our learning and developing our practice (Jasper, 2003). Jasper (2003) summarises reflective practice as having the following three components:

  • Things (experiences) that happened to the person
  • The reflective processes that enable to person to learn to learn from those experiences
  • The actions that result from the new perspectives that are taken

Reflection is part of reflective practice and is a skill that is developed. It is a way of adjusting to life as a qualified healthcare professional and enhancing the development of a professional identity (Atwal & Jones, 2009). Reflection can be described as a process of reasoned thought. It enables the practitioner to critically assess self and their approach to practice (Fleming, 2006). Schön (1987) identifies two types of reflection that can be applied in healthcare, ‘ Reflection-in-action’ and ‘Reflection-on-action’. Reflection-in-action can be termed as coming across situations and problems which may require thought and problem solving in the midst of practice. It can also be described as thinking whilst doing. Reflection-on-action involves revisiting experiences and further analyzing them to improve skills and enhance to future practice.

Advantages

Reflective practice is a fundamental component of continuing professional development and is required by all regulatory bodies of healthcare professionals in order to retain registration (Atwal & Jones, 2009). However, Driscoll (2006) notes that reflective practice is often represented as a choice for health professionals, whether to be reflective or not to be, about their clinical practice.There are benefits of incorporating reflection in a clinical setting.

Reflection enables health professionals to share knowledge with others, to benefit practice and helps practitioners make sense of challenging and complicated situations (Chapman et al, 2008). This helps to optimise their work practice and improve Interprofessional relationships.

Reflection allows an objective to look at our practice in order to improve the quality of our performance at work. Strengths and weaknesses can also be identified from reflection, enabling an enhancement in the development of areas needed to be improved.

  • helps recognise the strength and weakness so we enhance development.
  • enables us to apply skill of reflection to CPD cycle.
  • Atwal and Jones (2009) suggests reflective practice can develop greater levels of self-awareness about themselves as practitioners and as people, leading to opportunities for professional development and personal growth.
  • Driscoll (2006) notes that if there is a commitment to this action, it can improve practice and transform healthcare.

Disadvantages

There are known barriers which prevent practitioners being able to reflect effectively. Smythe (2004) questions whether there is any time to think and be reflective because of the busy work environment that practitioners are involved in. Time plays a huge factor in one of the disadvantages in not being able to reflect on practice.

  • time
  • motivation
  • initial expertise and lack of peer support
  • culture of organisation
  • Preconception that it is too difficult or not worth it

Because of the science background of Radiography profession, it may be viewed that it is largely scientific and technical therefore reflection does not need to play a role in the profession. However Radiography has evolved through the years and the work is becoming increasingly more patient centred.

MODELS

Many literatures have been written in the past that suggest the use of reflective assignments and journaling as tools to improve reflection and thinking skills in healthcare (Chapman et al, 2008). Reflective journals are an ideal way to be actively involved in learning (Millinkovic & Field, 2005) and can be implemented to allow practitioners to record events and document their thoughts and actions on daily situations, and how this may affect their future practice (Williams & Wessel, 2004). This also helps the practitioner to become self- directed in their learning. Reflective diaries can be used to write down events that happened within a clinical setting for example a critical incident or a patient interaction (Chapman et al, 2008). From this, questions such as what happened and why? how do I feel about it? and what can I learn from it will allow the practitioner to reflect on their topic in a deeper more thought processed structure.

CHOSEN MODEL

Service delivery is a vital component on improvement of health services. The World Health Organisation (2010) summarises that effective service delivery depends on key resources such as motivated staff, information and equipment, and these have to be well managed.. The NMC ( 2003) states that CPD contributes to the quality of practice and service delivery and stresses the value of reflection on practice and the need to record the outcome of such reflection. By supporting reflective practice in healthcare departments, issues of the quality of own service delivery can be raised. Reflection will also help to provide a service in the best possible way, and will allow the department to think about actions that are being undertaken that should not be, and actions that are being taken that should not be (E-training resources).

Many literatures have been written in the past that suggest the use of reflective assignments and journaling as tools to improve reflection and thinking skills in healthcare (Chapman et al, 2008). Reflective journals are an ideal way to be actively involved in learning (Millinkovic & Field, 2005) and can be implemented to allow practitioners to record events and document their thoughts and actions on daily situations, and how this may affect their future practice (Williams & Wessel, 2004). This also helps the practitioner to become self- directed in their learning. Reflective diaries can be used to write down events that happened within a clinical setting for example a critical incident or a patient interaction (Chapman et al, 2008). From this, questions such as what happened and why? how do I feel about it? and what can I learn from it will allow the practitioner to reflect on their topic in a deeper more thought processed structure.

 

Conclusion

Reflective practice is becoming an essential skill that is incorporated into clinical practice and CPD and it is therefore important that the imaging department understand the role and the potential of reflection. Different ways to reflect in practice can be approached; however, there are evident barriers to reflection within an imaging department including time because of the busy environment a hospital encompasses or lack of motivation if the vast majority of health care practitioners are not undertaking it. The NHS has to implement ways in which all healthcare professionals can reflect in their practice to enhance patient care, as on of the NHS’s main aims are to improve the care of patients. Various measures have to be taken into account to achieve this.

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