A process of learning and developing through examining our own practice, opening our practice to scrutiny by others, and studying texts from the wider sphere. An approach to learning and practice development which is patient-centred and which acknowledges the untidiness and confusion of the practice environment (Burns & Bulman 2000). Reflective practice remains a relatively unknown concept in paramedic practice compared to other healthcare professions such as nursing, where it has been embraced as an essential foundation of professional practice and continuous development. Paramedic associations and regulatory bodies worldwide suggest that all paramedics maintain a personal CPC portfolio, and a reflective journal or diary is an essential part of this portfolio. Reflective practice is an important tool in practice-based professional learning settings where individuals learning from their own professional experiences, rather than from formal teaching or knowledge transfer. Learning to be a reflective practitioner includes not only acquiring knowledge and skills, but also the ability to establish a link between theory and practice, providing a rationale for actions. How many of us discuss calls and patient outcomes with other practitioners back at base or in the ambulance (a call “post-mortem”)?
Putting these reflections down on paper and in a logical, structured manner is what proves difficult to many practitioners. Gibbs reflective cycle is seen as one of the easiest to follow and implement, and is therefore a good starting point for those beginning with reflective practice.
Once you are comfortable with reflective practice, you will begin to focus on the evaluation, analysis and planning phases in more detail. Practitioners using Kolb’s cycle self analyse if learning objectives were met – this starts the cycle again at the plan phase. The importance of reflection and reflective practice are frequently noted in the literature; indeed, reflective capacity is regarded by many as an essential characteristic for professional competence.
Bolton, G (2010) Reflective Practice, Writing and Professional Development (3rd edition), California, SAGE publications. For reflection to become a transferable skill that is used in practice, practitioners need to learn how to combine this skill with critical thinking. This study evaluated physiotherapy students’ perception of a reflective journal in developing reflective thinking and practice and identified the main concepts recorded by students in the journal. Background: Medical educators constantly face the challenge of preparing students for public health practice.
Alan is a critical care paramedic, paramedic educator and prehospital researcher, currently working around the world as an educator and researcher.
Bone question but can you offer any advice on what sort of cases and incidents i should be reflecting on ? Hi Alan, we’d like to use this template for our staff, obviously with all the credits still on, would that be ok do you think?
It is an important process in continuous professional competency and development. Reflection is nothing to be scared of – we all reflect every day in different forms and about different things.
Reflective practice is the link between theory and practice and a powerful means of using theory to inform practice thus promoting evidence based practice (Tsingos et al., 2014).
As we thought – so reflection on practice is not a new concept to Paramedics, but the formal application of it as part of professional development may be. The Gibbs Reflective Cycle is commonly used in nursing, and we also recommend this as an introductory process to paramedics and prehospital care providers, as it allows for a logical pathway for constructing reflective diary entries.
Once you are comfortable with the reflective process, you may decide to use another reflective cycle such as those by Kolbs, Johns, Brookfield, Rolfe or Ganshirt. Your reflections will become more insightful, probing and detailed as opposed to a generalised narrative description commonly seen when beginning reflective diaries.
The cycle can however begin at any stage. The learner reviews the learning content, plans study and learning objectives.
Done regularly, reflective practice will enable you to pay attention to the details of your clinical practice, and your ability to bridge the gap between theory and practice. This article provides practical guidance to mentors, clinical supervisors and preceptors on how this might be encouraged.
Physiotherapy students find guided journals useful to develop reflective thinking and practice during their first clinical placement: a qualitative study. Medical students’ reflective writing about a task-based learning experience on public health communication.
Effect of reflective practice education on self-reflection, insight, and reflective thinking among experienced nurses: a pilot study. And reflective practice will help the profession grow – it’s a vital component in professionalism! An Introduction to Reflective Practice for ParamedicsNavaneetha R on Free Online Course: Understanding Research MethodsSharon Middleton on Here’s looking at you!
It can be used by both students and qualified paramedics to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses and areas for development. Remember, reflection is a personal activity, and one model will not fill all – feel free to adapt cycles or processes to suit your individual needs. The learner then studies the material, reflects on what they have learned, and see if they can apply it practically to a number of exercises and problems. Bearing this in mind, you will be able to anticipate upcoming situations as being new learning experiences, and in doing so, become a more informed, safer and more skilful practitioner. Developing Critical Thinkers: Challenging Adults To Explore Alternative Ways of Thinking and Acting.
Sometimes, writing down the reflection is helpful in giving structure to your thoughts (Price, 2004). His main interests are in care of the elderly, end-of-life care, patient safety, professionalism, immersive simulation and curriculum design. This can also occurred based on a discontinuity – the learner may discover something they do not know, and therefore the cycle begins at the reflection phase.

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