Reflective accounts

Reflective practice

A CPD article improved Rose Gallacher’s knowledge of the importance of reflection in nursing practice.

A CPD article improved Rose Gallacher’s knowledge of the importance of reflection in nursing practice


Keeping a reflective diary can help to improve your practice. Picture: iStock

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article defined reflection, and demonstrated how it can be used to support nurses’ revalidation with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. It also explained various models of reflection that nurses can use in their practice.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

I learned that reflection is a purposeful process that can be used to analyse the success or failure of an event, and can inform nurses’ future practice.

The article emphasised that it is important for nurses to reflect on their practice daily, and suggested using a model of reflection to provide a structured, step-by-step framework. I understand that it is important to undertake reflection as soon as possible after an event, and that it may be helpful to reflect in groups with others who experienced the same event, because they may interpret it differently. 

I found that reflecting on a recent event I experienced in my practice was beneficial in determining what happened, what I was doing, why or how something went well or wrong, or if I could have acted differently. While reflection is an effective way of increasing nurses’ self-awareness, the article also suggested it can evoke feelings of vulnerability, doubt, distrust and anxiety.

I realise that some models of reflection are more complex than others, and that using a simple model with few questions could mean that I overlook important insights.

How did you change or improve your practice?

After reading the article, I decided to change my practice by capturing my thoughts and feelings in a reflective diary. I used the headings recommended in the article to guide my reflection, including: ‘What happened?’, ‘How did I feel?’, ‘What are the main points?’, ‘What do I need to explore further?’ and ‘What are my initial thoughts were this to happen again?’

The article identified that it may be challenging for nurses to find time to reflect. I have attempted to overcome this by keeping a reflective diary in my pocket, in which I record brief notes while working and then write additional information after the end of my shift. I have found this process helpful in managing the feelings that arise during my practice.

How is this relevant to the Code? Select one or more themes: Prioritise people, Practise effectively, Preserve safety, Promote professionalism and trust

Reflection can encourage nurses to practise effectively by understanding and improving their performance, while working within the limits of their competence. The article also relates to The Code theme of preserving safety, since nurses can use reflection to recognise concerns or issues that arise in their practice and take appropriate action.

Rose Gallacher is a staff nurse at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow


This reflective account is based on NS842 Nicol JS, Dosser I (2016) Understanding reflective practice. Nursing Standard. 30, 36, 34-40 

Write your own reflective account

You can gain a certificate of learning by reading a Nursing Standard CPD article and writing a reflective account. To write a reflective account for Nursing Standard, use the NMC reflective accounts form. Complete the four questions about a CPD article you have read, writing about 700 words in total.

The authors of reflective accounts that are published in Nursing Standard receive a £50 book token. Details of how to submit your reflective account for publication are available here.

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