The importance of reflection

Who gains benefit from reflection…YOU!

  • Career planning
    • What you are like
    • hat you like/dislike
    • Your circumstances (current and desired future)
    • Appropriateness of your career choices based on your likes, dislikes, circumstances, desires, needs
  • Job applications – many white box questions on job application forms are easily answered from a complete and contemporary reflective diary
  •  Revalidation
  • Maintaining skills
  •  Maintaining sanity - if you have gone through a bad or difficult experience, the process of reflection (working out how the experience happened, how you can stop it happening again and identifying the positives of the experience) can make you feel better about the situation through being more rational, as well as improving your future practice.

What to reflect on

ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. There is no limit to reflection. In fact, we all probably do it without realising on a daily basis and not just when we are at work. No? How many times have you had a day out and asked whoever you went with if they had a good time? This will often lead to a conversation including what was good, what was bad, what you would like to do again etc. This is reflection.

In our jobs it is useful to reflect on good as well as bad events. To work out why the event had the outcome it did. You can identify areas of missing knowledge, strengths and thinking about it now will help you to handle the situation better next time.

In addition to discrete events you can also reflect on your life and career now and in the past. This can help you to determine whether you are satisfied and what can be done to make things even better.

How to reflect

You don’t have to formally document all reflective episodes that you undertake. However, deliberately taking yourself through the steps of reflection will be beneficial. Formal, written reflection will help you in the following ways:
·         Having to write it all down will really help you to crystallise your thoughts about the topic/subject/event you are reflecting on.
·         Job applications and appraisals are often based upon your own reflective processes and findings – having them written down will help you to remember significant learning events, good and bad times and will assist you to decide what it is that you actually want for the future.
·         Having evidence of reflection in your portfolio will demonstrate that you are a thoughtful person who wants to use past experiences to build your future career.

Use the tools below to help you to reflect. There are multiple tools to use as there are multiple situations on which you can reflect. Try and have a look at a variety of tools to help you to see the variety of situations on which you can reflect.

Tools to help you reflect

Of course some people find it easy to reflect using just a plain piece of paper and a pen or a word processor. However, you may need a bit more guidance. Below is a list of the resources available through this website to help you structure reflection. First think about why you want to reflect? To consolidate your experiences in a particular setting, to plan your career or to identify your strengths/weaknesses? Next, make sure you pick a reflection sheet appropriate to your stage.

  • Anybody who has not reflected before [Link to] Reflection – an introduction for beginners
  • Do you want to spend time reflecting on your life and career as a whole? Visit the Windmills Programme website
  • Medical students who want to think about possible careers [Link to] Current career interests and [Link to] Using clinical attachments to further career development decisions]
  • Medical students and doctors who still have job applications to come [Link to] Identifying desirable qualities, evidence and skills in preparation for job applications
  • Early year medical students who want to formally contemplate the required qualities for doctors to hold [Link to] Junior medical student reflection on important qualities for doctors to have
  • [Link to] Reflection for everybody
  • Anybody wanting to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses and traits they would like to improve [Link to] What are your skills
Further reflection tools targeted at professionals who desire a change in their career can be found at [link to] Doctors in any stage of their career wanting or needing to change a career choice.