Regulators unite to support reflective practice across healthcare

The leaders of nine healthcare regulators have joined forces to stress the benefits and importance of good reflective practice among professionals in the healthcare sector.

The chief executives have signed a joint statement – Benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner – which outlines the processes and advantages of good reflective practice for individuals and teams.

Reflection is the process whereby healthcare professionals assess their professional experiences – both positive and where improvements may be needed – recording and documenting insight to aid their learning and identify opportunities to improve.

Reflective practice allows an individual to continually improve the quality of care they provide and gives multi-disciplinary teams the opportunity to reflect and discuss openly and honestly.

The statement makes clear that teams should be encouraged to make time for reflection, as a way of aiding development, improving well-being and deepening professional commitment.

Chief executives of nine regulators – the General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland – have all signed the statement.

Ian Brack, Chief Executive and Registrar of the General Dental Council, said:

“Reflection plays an important role in healthcare. It brings significant benefits to patients by fostering improvements in practices and assures the public that professionals are learning from the challenges they encounter - and seeking to improve. Our recent research on CPD highlighted the importance of multi-professional teams coming together regularly to reflect when things go wrong and when things go right, and this is one of the things that we are going to be seeking views about when we consult on the future of lifelong learning for dental professionals in the early part of this summer.”

The statement reinforces that reflection is a key element of development. It also makes clear that patient confidentiality is vital, and that registrants will never be asked to provide their personal reflective notes to investigate a concern about them.

Guidance is given on how to get the most out of reflective practice, including having a systematic and structured approach with proactive and willing participants. It makes clear that any experience, positive or negative and however small – perhaps a conversation with a colleague – can generate meaningful insight and learning. Multi-disciplinary and professional team reflection is viewed as an excellent way to develop ideas and improve practice.

The statement also reinforces the regulators’ continued commitments to reflective practice across their own organisations and highlights the pivotal role it plays in changing and improving their work.