Our third annual student professionalism competition focused on the topic of reflective practice. Here, winner Hattie Greig, from the University of Dundee, considers how a ‘Trip Advisor’ inspired approach can help doctors to reflect on their own practice.
Reflect, Learn and Act!
Last year I studied “Teaching in Medicine” for my BMSc, which opened up opportunities to look into the different approaches of learning, including reflection and gain an appreciation for the multiple models which could be used to structure reflection. As soon as I heard about this GMC competition, to create a teaching session on reflection and its importance for medical students, I jumped at the opportunity, as I felt I understood the necessity for developing this skill. Following on from the past year’s study, I have an awareness of the true benefit of reflection and was looking forward to applying it when I resumed studying medicine.
Personally, I enjoy reflection as it provides me with an opportunity to analyse my actions and I can use the learning which comes from this reflection to direct my actions to improve my future practice. I have found this skill very useful for highlighting successful areas, those requiring further development and from this, I can make improvements which can be applied to anything from essays to medical examination technique.
I believe these positive feelings about reflection are not always reciprocated by my peers. Some medical students (if they are being honest!) may find the process of reflection, whether it be as part of their portfolio or on feedback, a drag, a laborious task, they moan, say that it is a waste of time and that it’s “just not their thing.” Consequently, they do not provide a thorough account of their experience, therefore, limiting the learning which can arise from this. In order to overcome this hurdle and realise how powerful the tool of reflection can be to help guide their learning, students need to be educated and receive specific teaching on how to approach reflection and put it into practise. To do this, I derived a teaching lesson which begins with a relatable scenario.
“Please write a short review about a visit to a café, restaurant or place of interest you have been to?”
Using this familiar “TripAdvisor” approach to introduce medical students to reflection, prompted interactive, light-hearted discussions and unconsciously got the students thinking about; What experience they were thinking about? What went well? What was bad? What could be improved for your next visit?
This highlights the use of reflection in our everyday lives and through using a structured framework to support reflection, it could be used in our professional lives to create invaluable learning from our experiences which can then be acted upon. It can benefit our own learning, improve patient safety, whilst also enhancing relationships with our patients, peers and professionals. In light of the importance of reflection the GMC has recently published the document The reflective practitioner: guidance for doctors and medical students.
I had the pleasure of delivering this teaching session to medical students throughout the UK at the General Medical Council and Medical Schools Council Student conference at the beginning of November. It was a great opportunity to deliver the lesson plan for the first time and to prompt discussion about reflection. I hope that this lesson on reflection will be used throughout the UK to help engage students in this form of learning and so they can use this tool to its full potential!
So to bring it altogether, reflection is a skill that has an increasing requirement within the UK undergraduate medical curriculum and in daily practise as a doctor. Therefore, it is of great importance to nurture this skill as early as possible in medical students education by giving specific teaching on reflection and develop it throughout our careers in medicine. Find a reflective model which works best for you, then practise, practise and …
Reflect, Learn and Act!
You can find the winning and shortlisted entries on our website.