The Nurse’s Guide to Practice Reflection. Part 1

Introduction to The Ultimate Practice Reflection Guide

The ultimate practice reflection will walk you through the process of reflection, equipping you with the skills and real solutions that you need to make this part of your practice and for your NMC Nurse Revalidation

Part 1: Behind revalidation; The What, Why, When and Where. Here we uncover what Reflection is and why you need to apply it into your practice.

Part 2: How: How do we actually reflect? How do we fit this into our already jam packed days?
Stay tuned for part 2 where we will walk you through how to complete your reflections. We help you pick out your reflections and guide you to write your chosen reflection. Then, we get to the juicy bit of how to actually evaluate and analyse it like a pro. Making incorporating it into your practice as easy as pie.

Part 3: Translating your reflection into achievable goals for better practice. The final part of the ultimate reflection guide supports you in taking what you have identified from your reflection to put these into actual goals. Goals you will then incorporate into your practice! Including our own goal templates.

Part 1: Behind revalidation; The What, Why, When and Where.


What is reflection on nursing practice?

Reflection is when we look back at a specific event and evaluate it. As Nurses, we are looking back on our practice, thinking about what we did in a constructive way and then finding out how we could do things differently or better in the future if possible. We have to continually learn and offer the best care we can, reflection is a great way of enabling us to do this.

Why Reflect?

With the new Revalidation process from the NMC coming soon for all registered nurses and midwives in the UK, we will have to complete reflections as part of evidence that we are developing our skills continuously.
Anything that can help us better our practice and development sounds like something we want to be part of!

Benefits of reflection:

Reflection helps you grow and develop new approaches to deal with difficult situations and cope with those initial emotional reactions. This article explains how to use reflection as a technique to analyse experiences and gain insights that can have a positive impact on future interactions with your patients and colleagues.


Don’t moan. Although you can use the opportunity to ventilate, the point is to constructively learn from something and come up with solutions to better your practice.

Don’t story tell. Keep your reflections concise, objective and to the point. Try not to embellish things and don’t go off on a tangent away from the real issue.

Don’t sit on it if it’s upsetting. If you find you are reflecting on something that is giving you upsetting emotions or you are struggling to find solutions past your emotions then seek out a reflection buddy. Reflection doesn’t have to be done by you alone. Share this with a peer, manager or someone you feel comfortable with. They can help you through the process to find solutions and move forward with your practice.

Different forms of reflection:
There are many different form of reflection. So don’t think you are stuck to just a short written piece. You can pick whichever you are most comfortable with at first. Most reflections will be typed up or hand written.

Hand Written, put these safe in a dedicated reflections file.
Typed, Keep in a reflections folder on your computer or if you are using an electronic solution, store it in the relevant place.
Peer to peer discussion and note making (You and your peer in an undisturbed room for ½ hour both take it in turns to tell your story. Go in prepared with a couple of paragraphs on what the story is, tell the story in 5 minutes, discuss issues together in another 5 minutes, then, in the last 5 minutes write out the key solution focused learning points. Then swap. Both of you will learn from each other and boost each other’s motivation.
Presentation. If you have a particularly big learning experience, event or change that you feel your colleagues can also learn from, why not do a little presentation and share it with your team.

Shorter Reflections
You really don’t have to write much at times. There will be shorter pieces of reflection. As long as you are getting a solution you don’t have to write an essay. Especially when time is limited, being able to write reflections that are short and concise will be of benefit to you. There will however be some reflections that are bigger and require more thought so make sure you give yourself time for those.
Longer reflections. Whilst most reflections you do shouldn’t take you too long dependent on how fast you are at writing, interruptions, getting stuck. Some reflections will take longer than others dependent on the complexity, significance or emotions with it. If there is a piece that you find is bigger for whatever reason personal to you then treat it more carefully. Make sure you take the time it deserves but once you have your solutions don’t dwell on it and try to move forward. If you are struggling then do get support from your manager, supervisor or a peer for these ones as there could be a deeper issue that talking about will help with.

Get creative.
You may have a more creative side and be good at writing. When you get into reflections if you find you are enjoying this then go with it. As long as you are keeping it solution focused and to improving the issue in hand, if you are enjoying writing a longer piece then that is great. And for those who prefer shorter reflections, that is great too. Whatever appeals to you and your learning. One style does not fit all.

Where to reflect:
Nursing matters will soon be introducing an online system for you to enter your reflections into. Stored safely, securely and always available for you.

For now if you have any paper reflections keep them safe together in a special file. They are important bits of evidence that you can look back on even if they are practice ones to get you started. And equally, if you are already recording electronically, then keep your reflection documents safe in a reflection folder on your computer. Remember to keep them safe, secure and confidential.

When to reflect:
The best time to learn through things is while its fresh. Deal with it as soon as you realistically can. Even though revalidation is to be set up in 3-year cycles, the point is that your professional development and reflections should be continuous and always happening. You will be able to evaluate things better when it is all fresh in your mind. Making progress easier and more meaningful. Getting into this good habit will ensure the changes to your practice are of better quality and development is implemented sooner without delay.

You can scribble quick thoughts down in a notebook at work when you get a minute as a prompt for yourself. When you’re ready to write it up try to find a quiet space away from hustle and bustle so you can truly take time for yourself to allow your thoughts to come out.

Try not to fall into the trap of thinking ‘I’ll never get the time to reflect’. Try to look for solutions, and speak out if you are struggling. Professional development is all of our responsibility and if you are worried you wont get the time to do this then speak to your manager. You will both be able to find a solution to this. Reflection on practice to better our skills is in everyone’s interest.

Final thoughts:
Try sharing thoughts and ideas you already have around reflection together with your team to kick start getting yourself thinking about it in practice. This will help ease into the process, pick each others brains as you’re all in it together.
If you want to know more about reflection you, your place of work or peers may have some books on it too that you can dip into; ask around.

Look out soon for The Ultimate Practice Reflection Guide: Part 2: How: How do we actually reflect? Here, we will walk you through how to complete your reflections. Preparing you step by step through the reflection process. Including easy templates to get you started.