The importance of becoming an effective reflective practitioner

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Reflection is a crucial aspect of practice that all health care practitioners should embody, writes Nicola Clarke, Birmingham City University Senior Lecturer.

Reflection and reflective practice are not new concepts.

The analysis of experience to enable learning, whether it be in the form of critical incident analysis, understanding our actions, or in terms of wishing to understand ourselves to heighten our levels of self-awareness has been of prominence for a number of years in areas such as education, social work and nursing.

There is a wealth of literature written on this very matter. Not only literature on what reflection is, but the importance, and benefits of it as it relates to our practice. Reflection is an important aspect of practice and the health care practitioner should embody what it is to be the effective reflective practitioner.

Working as a healthcare practitioner or qualified nurse is perhaps one of the most rewarding jobs a person can have. Being there for others, enabling and supporting their journey from illness to potential recovery is not to be taken lightly. The joy we can feel when we support a person to get well, or begin their journey of recovery can be immense but so can the emotional, physical and cognitive strain of watching people suffer. Reflection and reflective practice is not only a concept that can heighten our self-awareness, enhance and support emotional intelligence but it can support the prevention of stress and distress, and enhance our ability to deal with stress and distress when it arrives, not only in our everyday life but in our working lives too.

Reflection is the corner stone of emotional resilience.

When we consider emotional resilience we think about the ability to recover, bounce back from adversity and react appropriately when life can get difficult (Grant and Kinman, 2013). Emotional resilience is a protective factor against stress and distress and is considered to not be a factor that is inherent in all of us, but a factor that can be developed (Beddoe et al. 2013). It has been suggested that emotional resilience is of paramount importance in the helping professions to support the prevention of burnout (Grant 2013), a term that is often given to our extreme reaction to stress and distress that has at times incurred consequences as serious as leaving the profession. Research conducted by Kinmen and Grant (2011) and Grant and Kinmen (2012) cited in (Grant and Kinmen, 2013) found that emotionally resilient practitioners are those that have highly developed reflective skills.


So when we consider the importance of being an effective reflective practitioner two facets come into mind:

  •  To be able to satisfy appropriately the requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Councils enhanced revalidation process, whereby nurses are required to provide written accounts of when they have reflected.
  • To recognise the complexity, and demanding nature of the caring profession and ensure we develop high levels of emotional resilience by becoming and embodying what it means to be an effective reflective practitioner.

SAVE THE DATE – 17th JANUARY 2018 12:00-16:00pm!

Come and see me in the Foyer of Seacole where I will be displaying information regarding the High Achievers Recognition Scheme and the Advancing Academic and Professional Skills strand, answering any questions you may have, and a new book written for students on how to become an effective reflective practitioner that will be in our Mary Seacole library from January 2018.

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There will also be an opportunity to enter a free Guess the number of Sweets competition to not only win some sugary loveliness but to also win a free signed copy of the Book.

I hope to see you there!

By Nicola Clarke, Birmingham City University Senior Lecturer / Professional Navigator / Senior Fellow of the HEA

Click here if you are interested in studying nursing at Birmingham City University.

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