Regulators unite to highlight importance of reflective practice
Author: Ingrid Torjesen
The leaders of nine healthcare regulators have joined forces to stress the benefits and importance of good reflection among professionals in the healthcare sector.
The chief executives have signed a joint statement – Benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner – which outlines the processes and advantages of being a good reflective practitioner for individuals and teams.
The statement makes clear that teams should be encouraged to make time for reflection, as a way of aiding development, improving wellbeing and deepening professional commitment.
Chief executives of the General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Medical Council (GMC), General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland have all signed the statement.
It states that reflection plays an important role in healthcare work, and brings benefits to patients, by fostering improvements in practices and services, and assuring the public that health and care professionals are continuously learning and seeking to improve.
The statement reinforces that reflection is a key element of development and educational requirements and, in some professions such as medicine, for revalidation as well. It also makes clear that patient confidentiality is vital, and that registrants will never be asked by regulators to provide their personal reflective notes to investigate a concern about them.
Dr Caroline Fryar, head of advisory services at the Medical Defence Union (MDU), said: “We encourage all doctors to take part in reflection, which remains an important part of clinical practice and is also an ethical duty, set out in the GMC's guidance Good Medical Practice (2013). Careful and conscientious reflection on professional practice, particularly if things go wrong, can be helpful both in terms of learning lessons and in demonstrating insight.”
She added, that as the new statement points out, reflections should be anonymised and focus on what has been learned, rather than the identifiable details of those involved or the event.
“We hope the guidance will help reassure doctors and medical students about some of the misconceptions about reflection and the contents of reflective notes. For example, the statement explains that the regulators will not ask for personal written reflections in order to investigate a concern against a registrant. However, the MDU’s experience shows it can be helpful for doctors to offer evidence of their reflections when responding to a GMC investigation, for example to demonstrate they have learnt from the experience,” she said.
“We encourage members who are completing reflective notes after something has gone wrong or those who have received a request to disclose the document to others, to contact us for further advice.”