How Self Reflection Can Help Doctors, Nurses, and PAs

Self Reflection For Doctors

How many times a day are you able to take a step back and reflect on your day? Though limited, there have been studies initiated that assess the benefits of reflection in various sectors of healthcare. Understanding the act of reflection and making a conscious effort to perform it throughout the day can make all the difference in a good day versus a great one.

What is Reflection?

First off, it is important to establish exactly what reflection is. Many definitions exist, but author David Boud defines the term as “a generic term for those intellectual and affective activities in which individuals engage to explore their experiences in order to lead to a new understanding and appreciation.

Reflection has been directly linked to healthcare with the development of the concept of reflective practice- the act of using the evaluation of past experiences for professional development. The thought is that by being able to reflect on everyday actions and situations, it allows the physician to rethink their approach. This type of critical thinking often naturally occurs when facing a challenging situation, but reflection is a valuable learning resource after all day-to-day activities.

Benefits of Reflective Practice

There are a myriad of benefits in engaging in reflective practice, from professional growth to learning more about your practice. Here are a few of the top benefits:

  • The chance to refresh from the events of the day.
  • Assists in self-assessment which leads to better understanding of self.
  • More thoughtful interactions with staff.
  • The opportunity to gauge if improvements could be made on how a certain situation was handled.
  • Improvement in overall clinical practice.

How Do I Engage in Reflective Practice?

To ensure that you are getting the most out of evaluating your experiences, there are certain actions that you can take. These are a few of the ways that you can make sure to reap all the benefits of reflection:

1) Be Deliberate. There are many times throughout the day where we reflect and do not realize it. In these instances, we are on the right track but are not fully reaping all the benefits of reflection. When you are putting careful consideration into the day’s events, you examine them more closely and therefore get more out of the experience.

2) Take It One At A Time. People working in healthcare have varying workloads and there are a dozens things to be thinking of at any given moment. Rather than trying to reflect on everything at once, pick a few choice happenings of the day and assess one by one.

3) Strive For Routine.  This may not always be possible, but some find it easier to set aside certain times to reflect on the day. If you prefer to take a few moments after every few hours, early morning then mid-day reflection might work. Or perhaps you prefer to let the day play out and then assess before heading home. Either way, establishing routine can make remembering to reflect less of a hassle.

Sierra Kennedy
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