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...
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...edge to previous theoretical or practical knowledge gained through previous reflection. Hallet (1997) sees reflection on clinical events as an expansion of cognitive learning. She goes on to say that through reflective learning and practise there is a shift from the biomedical model of scientific knowledge towards the human side of clinical care.
Reflection is a vital tool for learning and development, both in and outside of the healthcare profession. As health care professionals we must develop and keep up to date with the latest treatments and technologies in order to be able to deliver the safest and most effective care available to our patients. Donald Schon has led the study of the effects of reflection in health care since 1987. And with the addition of Kolb and his learning styles, reflection is now fundamental in the development of health care professionals.
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