Reflective accounts

Understanding reflective practice

A CPD article improved Sue Wrigglesworth’s knowledge of reflective practice
discussion

A CPD article improved Sue Wrigglesworths knowledge of reflective practice

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

The article provided practical advice to increase my knowledge and understanding of reflective practice. It challenged assumptions that nurses make about the purpose of reflective activity, and indicated that professional reflection should be purposeful, focused and questioning, to enable professional development.

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

The article improved my understanding of reflective practice. The aim of purposeful reflection is to improve care and public protection by raising professional standards.

Reflection should be combined with critical thinking. This involves an individual analysing the event and exploring related literature and up to date evidence. This can be challenging, because the person might

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A CPD article improved Sue Wrigglesworth’s knowledge of reflective practice

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

The article provided practical advice to increase my knowledge and understanding of reflective practice. It challenged assumptions that nurses make about the purpose of reflective activity, and indicated that professional reflection should be purposeful, focused and questioning, to enable professional development.

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

The article improved my understanding of reflective practice. The aim of purposeful reflection is to improve care and public protection by raising professional standards.

Reflection should be combined with critical thinking. This involves an individual analysing the event and exploring related literature and up to date evidence. This can be challenging, because the person might realise their beliefs were erroneous or no longer considered best practice.

We rarely scrutinise why a situation has gone right or investigate how something went wrong. Without such reflection, there is nothing to encourage us to learn, to improve our knowledge and skills, or to prevent the same mistakes from recurring.

How did you change or improve your practice?

I have some experience of the Gibbs model described in the article, and have used it to help frame a reflective essay I wrote following a drug error incident. I found reflective practice to be helpful because, by exploring all the issues involved in the incident, as well as my emotional response to it, I was able to learn from it and improve my care, rather than losing confidence in my abilities.

I followed the recommendation to include a template for a reflective model at the front of a notebook, to document incidents that occur during a shift. This assisted me to organise my thoughts in writing.

Patterns of behaviour can emerge from regular reflection. For me, this related to how I can delegate effectively to improve care.

The article has helped my colleagues and me to be more aware of the importance of purposeful reflection. It has enabled us to establish a work environment where we discuss events and examine them more closely, which should lead to better patient care and effective teamwork.

During handover, we share ideas about how to care for individual patients. For example, we may have discovered different things that the patient responds to, such as what they like to eat.

Discussion of a critical event, such as cardiac arrest, can be therapeutic, particularly if the care attempt is unsuccessful. However, nurses will experience many less dramatic incidents during shifts. The key to improving care will be to discover a means of discussing these incidents, examining them in more detail and learning from them.

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

Promoting professionalism and trust is one of the themes of The Code. Revalidation aims to improve public protection and professional standards by encouraging a culture of reflection and improvement, while strengthening professionalism through ongoing reflection.

A practitioner must produce a minimum of five written reflective accounts during each three-year re-registration period as a prerequisite for revalidation. 

Sue Wrigglesworth is a staff nurse at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham


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

These questions are the same as those on the NMC templates that UK nurses and midwives must use for revalidation.

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 the CPD article you have just read, writing about 800 words in total. Details of how to submit your reflective account are available here

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