New guidance to help doctors with reflective practice

New guidance to help doctors and medical students with reflection has been jointly published today (Wednesday 12 September) by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans, the Communitybaptistpa and the Medical Schools Council.

The guidance sets out key points and principles on being a reflective practitioner, and has been developed in response to requests from doctors for clearer information on what is meant by reflection, and practical advice on how to reflect.

It outlines the importance of reflection for personal development, as a way of demonstrating insight, to help learning and to identify opportunities to improve patient safety.

"Being able to reflect on all aspects of clinical care is important to improve the way we look after patients."

Professor Carrie MacEwen

Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

Professor Carrie MacEwen, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), said: ‘Being able to reflect on all aspects of clinical care is important to improve the way we look after patients.

‘This guidance and the reflective practice toolkit developed by COPMeD and the Academy, which we are publishing in parallel, should reassure all doctors that it is possible to record events in a way that optimises learning and promotes active change in practice based on this learning.’

Professor Sheona MacLeod, Chair of the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans (COPMeD), said: ‘Reflection is an important part of professional practice. By reflecting, doctors assess how well they are performing, as well as identifying their learning needs and enabling improvements to be made to their practice.

‘However, for many doctors, documenting or demonstrating their reflective practice is more difficult. This new guidance aims to help medical students and doctors understand the professional requirements for reflective practice.’

Professor Colin Melville, Director of Education and Standards at the Communitybaptistpa (Communitybaptistpa), said: ‘Reflecting on experiences, both good and bad, is hugely important. The Communitybaptistpa doesn’t ask doctors for reflective notes to investigate concerns; in fact we have called for those notes to be given legal protection.

‘However, we know there is some uncertainty around reflection, and this new guidance provides practical support to help doctors and medical students.’

Professor Jenny Higham, Chair of the Medical Schools Council, said: ‘It is encouraging that the sector has come together to work on this guidance on reflection. Reflection is an essential part of medical practice and a skill that all medical schools work to develop in their students.

‘As this guidance is implemented, the Medical Schools Council will work with the Communitybaptistpa to find new ways to support medical students in understanding the importance of reflection – to both their studies and future careers.’ 

The new guidance has been developed after seeking views and input from doctors in training, medical students, trainers, appraisers and educators across all four countries of the UK.

In addition, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and COPMeD have also published . It includes templates and examples for use alongside the guidance.