Reflective writing

Whats the point?  Why do we have to do it?  How can we do it well?

Gibbs Reflective Cycle helps us to visualise the reflective process




Learning to connect our though processes and document them is the beginning of reflection.

Reflective writing is all about you.  Put yourself in the middle of what you are writing about.  It is not about the situation, it is about your involvement in the scenario you have chosen to reflect on.

The learning log will help you to display competence in certain areas.  We expect two to three entries per week. This number of well-structured reflections will mean that you have enough evidence to facilitate this.

Before you begin to write, take a few moments to focus 

  • Think about the scenario that you have chosen to write about

What is it about this situation which has made you consider it? 

  • Identifying what that is will make it easier for you to to write your relection

What happened?

  • Describe the event from your perspective
  • Decide if it shows e.g. Fitness to practice or practicing holistically.  Maintaining focus on the reason you are writing about your scenario will enable you to present your evidence in a more effective way
  • Do not just start writing about something that happened without really considering the above.  This could result in a log which, although may be comprehensive, will not actually display competence in an area
  • Keep it personal.  It must be about you, if it isn’t written through your eyes,  entries tend to be about something that happened rather than a trainees personal involvement

How did it make you feel?  What were you thinking?

  • Happy, sad, angry, pleased, frustrated, considered, valued?  How did what you were thinking connect with how you felt?

Did it go well, or could it have been done better?

  • This is about what difference you could have made, not other peoples mistakes

What would you change?

  • This is what you would change in your own participation; how you acted or behaved
  • Could making a change, make a difference?
  • The conversations you had; do you feel you communicated well or did a misunderstanding cause difficulties?
  • What could have made things go better, why didn’t it go well?
  • Did things go so well that you would not change anything?
  • This is about what you will do/ not do next time

What did you learn?

  • This is, of course, clinical knowledge but this is also about personal development and you identifying what you have learnt about yourself as a person.
    • ‘It made me feel’, ‘I was frustrated’, ‘I was happy to see’, ‘ I found it difficult’

What further learning would be beneficial to you?

  • Most situations which have already made you reflect, usually result in your realisation that you could probably learn more about certain things
  • Identify what this learning need could be, make it a SMART objective, put it in your PDP and complete it

What should I write about? - Anything that you have learnt something from

  • Clinical encounters- things that went well and also things that could have been done better
  • Lectures and meetings- teaching sessions, appraisal meetings, patient meetings
  • Conversations- communications with your peers or discussions with your supervisors

Remember to include your feelings although this can sometimes be difficult.  We must explore how things make us feel as this determines how we act and react. Learning to reflect effectively about what is happening in our lives, analysing and learning from it, will inevitably improve how we live and work.

There are documents in the downloads section of this web site which you may find useful that were used in the teaching session Dr Green facilitated on learning log entries.

Reflective writing guidance

Competence framework

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