Helping doctors and medical students reflect on their work

Reflective practice – learning from both positive and negative clinical experiences – is crucial both for doctors’ and medical students’ professional development and to maintain and improve patient safety and care.

It’s key that doctors use their notes for honest and open reflection without fear of negative repercussion. In light of concerns about this, we held a series of workshops across the UK for doctors in training, medical students, appraisers and educators. We invited them to share their experiences of reflection and discuss the importance of reflective practice.

In response to the general themes of the workshop discussions, we co-produced new advice to support doctors in being reflective practitioners, in collaboration with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans and the Medical Schools Council.

60% of doctors polled on our website found the advice helpful. For those who didn’t, the main reason cited was that reflective notes should be legally protected. We’re not in the position to determine this, as it’s a matter for the UK Government, but we have called for the UK and devolved governments to provide legal protection for reflective notes. We don’t ask for doctors’ reflective notes as part of our fitness to practise investigations, although doctors may choose to share their notes as part of the process.

We’ll continue to foster an open and honest learning culture, and work with doctors, medical students and employers to help health professionals to reflect.