In this essay I will be describing reflection, the methods of reflecting and the benefits of reflection in clinical practise. Everyone from doctors and lawyers to shop assistants and builders reflect upon their work. Reflection can be used to learn and develop as a clinician, professional and also as a person.
Reflection is the examination of personal thoughts and actions. For practitioners this could mean focusing on how they interact with colleagues, patients and their environment. For example a clinician could reflect on an experience such as a treatment or staff meeting. By reflecting on experiences such as this a clinician can get a better understanding of their own behaviour, Wilkinson (1996). Reflection is therefore a process through which practitioners get a better understanding about their strengths and areas for improvement. Schon (1991) names two forms of reflection used by clinicians; reflection on action and reflection in action.
Reflection on action is the most commonly used form of reflection. This form involves going back through an event in your mind for example a treatment of a patient. After reflecting on that experience a clinician can highlight strengths and areas for improvement. An example of reflection on action could be that you are sitting in the staff room thinking about the last patient that you have seen. The patient was a 40 year old male who was suffering from neck and right arm pain that prevented him from doing his job as a builder. As the clinician you complete a subjective and objective assessment and give the patient some exercises and stretches to do in order to improve his decreased range of motion and pain. As you reflect on this session you realise that you were asking a lot of close ended questions. You realise that this has always been a weakness of yours. However during your reflection you also notice that you are very individual and you rarely need the help of other clinicians on what to do next or where equipment is. Therefore because of a quick episode of reflection on action you have identified that your communication skills could be improved so that you ask open ended questions to get more information from your patients. You have also identified that you are autonomous and can make decisions and act independently. After reflecting on the previous episode of care you have identified one strength and one area for improvement. With this information you can form an action plan to improve your areas for improvement. You can now start to take active steps to improve your communication through trying new types of questions or seeking help from another professional. You should also take steps to further improve your autonomy as well.
Many journals on reflection seem to emphasise focusing on your areas for improvement instead of your strengths, Grant et al (2001) Revans (1998). In Grant (2001) the practitioner is urged to ask questions such as “could I have been more effective if I had acted differently?”....