New guidance to help medical students reflect on their practice

To support medical students in developing skills as reflective practitioners, the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Medical Schools Council (MSC) are today (Tuesday 3 September) publishing new guidance.

Reflective practice allows doctors, and other healthcare professionals, to assess their experiences and to demonstrate insight to aid their learning and identify opportunities to improve.

The reflective practitioner – a guide for medical students helps students find a style of reflection that suits them, and to make reflective practice a regular part of their routine.

It includes practical tips on how to anonymise reflective notes, such as removing gender pronouns, job titles and specific locations, as well as examples of how these can be applied while studying and working.

"Reflective practice involves looking at what's worked well and what hasn't and identifying what can be learned from those experiences. Reflection helps medical students to develop throughout their careers, and to become good doctors providing excellent care to patients."

Professor Colin Melville

Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards

Professor Colin Melville, the GMC’s Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards, said:

‘Our two organisations play major roles in supporting UK medical schools to provide a world class education to students. Ensuring reflective practice is embedded in this education is an important part of our remit.

‘This guidance will help medical students understand the benefits of reflection. It also provides practical advice and tips to develop the skills required to do so effectively before they enter practice.’

Clare Owen, Assistant Director at MSC, said:

‘Medical students learn that education is a continuum, not just through further training but through learning that is self-directed and drawn from everything they do in practice. 

‘Being a doctor means having the ability to reflect on practice and the decisions made each day. This guidance will be an invaluable tool for medical schools as they train students in this key skill.’

The new guidance is a practical accompaniment to The reflective practitioner - guidance for doctors and medical students which the GMC and MSC co-produced with other education bodies.