Becoming a nurse means pursuing lifelong learning as continuous improvement is integral to the role, as well as a systematic approach to enhancing the quality of care for patients. Throughout their career nurses will actively engage in their professional development and strive to reflect insightfully on situations in practice to identify areas for improvement and learn from mistakes.
As stated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), it is compulsory for nurses to revalidate their practice every three years. This involves providing five reflective accounts alongside evidence that shows you have learned from events and improved your practice as a result. If you’re unsure where to begin when considering reflecting on your practice for revalidation, Medical Staffing has put together a useful guide to help you through the process!
What is reflective practice in nursing?
Reflective practice is an invaluable opportunity to evaluate your practical work and is a key skill for nurses. The process encourages you to make sense of events, situations and actions in the healthcare setting you work in so that you can effectively manage the impact of caring for others. Reflection can also be used to identify learning points to enhance your nursing practice and support your career development.
Effective reflection can take place either individually, in groups or a combination of the two. There are many opportunities to stop and analyse experiences that happen in your day-to-day practice to drive learning and professional growth, such as:
Discussions with peers
Feedback from patients
Why is reflective practice important in nursing?
To be able to properly care for your patients, it is important that you also feel nurtured and supported. Reflective practice facilitates an environment where learning is encouraged. It also accommodates any challenges you may experience, such as feeling discomfort with a particular patient, colleague, or scenario.
As well as improving standards of care, other benefits of reflective practice in nursing include:
Enabling healthcare professionals to share knowledge with others
Helping to make sense of challenging and/ or complicated situations
Improving relationships with colleagues
Promoting collaboration in nursing teams
Nursing reflection ideas
It is a good idea to get into the habit of reflecting on your work and make it part of your regular routine. If busy shifts make it difficult to find the time to write notes, try recording your reflections on your phone using a voice note while the event is still fresh in your mind. Your preferred method will differ depending on what suits you best, but if you struggle to express your emotions or articulate how you’re feeling, don’t be afraid to get creative and use drawings and illustrations!
It’s important to remember that change may not happen overnight, some of the areas you’re trying to improve on will take time. Reflective practice is a marathon, not a sprint, and its purpose is to support your continual development throughout your entire nursing career. If you’re new to nursing and wondering where to begin, or perhaps you’re looking for a refresh on recommended techniques, we have pulled together some useful tips for both informal and formal reflection below.
Informal reflection tends to be unstructured and done mostly individually or with your team. It’s good to get into the habit of spending 10 minutes a day considering what you have learned as well as identifying points for improvement. When analysing your practice or a scenario at work, try asking yourself these kinds of questions:
What went well?
What didn’t go so well?
What would you do differently next time?
Formal reflection for revalidation
Formal reflection is a structured process that can be used for your official revalidation that occurs every three years where you must provide five reflective accounts based on either:
A piece of practice-related feedback
An event or experience in your own professional practice
Your reflective account should be brief and describe your actions, including what went well and what didn’t go so well, as well as what you have learnt moving forward. It is also important to familiarise yourself with The Code, which are the professional standards of nursing practice and behaviour and the source you’ll use to reflect your actions against. We’d suggest keeping a copy close by at all times!
If you have any further questions about reflection for revalidation, or would like to discuss anything in more detail, Lorraine Gray, our head of clinical performance, would be happy to help!
Alternatively, if you're looking for your next nursing opportunity, we've got you covered. We can ensure you are always able to provide the best care possible by sourcing short and long-term assignments, out of hours, or back-to-back roles.