Start by watching this short YouTube clip explaining what reflection is:

You aren’t alone if you consider reflective writing to be irrelevant, fluffy or even a nuisance or a waste of time.  It may be that you won’t ever really enjoy it…however you might not have enjoyed biomechanics or pathology, but you still need to learn about it to be a competent surgeon.  It is a clinically relevant skill you can improve and use throughout your career if you choose to. It is also, though, a GMC requirement for doctors to reflect regularly on their standards of medical practice (2006), and to be able to demonstrate it.

 What is it?

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).   

 The ultimate aim of reflection is to improve professional practice, both the process and the result can contribute significantly to clinical wisdom.

Just thinking about the take home message from an operation may take as little as 30 seconds, but is still reflection.  Our challenge is to engage with the reflective process, move from observational descriptive writing to critical reflection and practice…. rather than just treating it as another box to tick

Check next blog for how to do so.