Introduction to teaching reflective writing for appraisal and revalidation by Tracey Pratchett

I’m on my way to meet some colleagues for a natter and catch up, so I thought I’d make the most of my time on the train and write this post. At the start of this year, I was contacted by our Revalidation Coordinator to see whether I could deliver reflective writing training for senior clinicians. I’ve been delivering this to Foundation Yr 1 for the past 5 years and so naturally I said yes! I had identified reflective writing as a potential teaching session last year (in light of revalidation), but due to time limitations this never happened.

So what did I cover? Well, I had really limited time, up to an hour during Grand Round plus I didn’t know how many to expect, (5 or 50!) so I wanted the session to be brief, to the point and practical. I also wanted to make the session interactive using group discussion to break up the presentation, engage participants and use the results of discussions to inform future sessions. My session was structured to answer the following questions:

  • What is reflection and why should I do it?
  • What should I reflect on?
  • Where do I include reflective writing in my portfolio?
  • How do I write a reflective piece?
  • What does good reflective writing look like?

I defined reflective practice using the Gibbs model and tried to show this YouTube video by Bill Laughey, a GP in North Yorkshire, but the technology let me down so I had to relay his message verbally. I also highlighted the GMC guidance for appraisal and revalidation in which reflective writing is embedded. Following this brief introduction, I moved straight into a good old post-it note exercise, asking people to discuss what they might reflect on and why. I collated and circulated this information after the session and it was really useful for me to develop my next session.

After the discussion, I demonstrated the difference between providing evidence and reflection (see table below) and wanted to show how this could be linked to the GMC guidance then moving onto keeping a reflective diary and providing tips for writing reflectively.

Evidence Reflection
Audit presentation Written piece analysing what you learned and what you plan to change (in your next appraisal you could revisit and evaluate whether the changes made a difference)Good Medical Practice : Domain 2 – Safety & Quality

Finally, we compared two pieces of reflective writing, an unstructured piece by Dr Tom Fardon and a structured example from some of the example portfolios available via the NHS Revalidation web site. Finding examples of reflective writing by senior clinicians was difficult, so if anyone can direct me to any good structured or unstructured pieces via blogs etc, please share via the comments below. I Tweeted the GMC Regional Liaison Adviser for the North West who said that hopefully some examples would be provided later this year; she also advised that she would be happy to co-facilitate any future sessions, so I would say she is definitely worth contacting.

I concluded the session by providing examples of the AMORC structured template, (surprisingly, few of which were taken) and summarised the session. Afterwards, I wrote a reflective piece to demonstrate how this might work in practice and the results of the discussions which were circulated to attendees.

I have to say this was one of the most successful teaching sessions I have delivered, with approximately 35 attendees coming along by choice; another session has been arranged next week at our other site. I would definitely recommend doing this, please get in touch via Twitter (@TraceyPratchett) or use the comments below if you have any comments or questions. Also very special thanks to Peta Jones at Tameside for sharing her great subject guide with me which made getting started so much easier :).

Good points:

  • Linked closely to need identified by revalidation Coordinator
  • Driven, advertised and promoted by appraisal/revalidation team
  • Embedded within Grand Round
  • Practical rather than theoretical

Areas for improvement:

  • Identify better examples of reflective writing
  • Be aware that not everyone enjoys discussion (e.g. post-it exercise)
  • Check video clips in advance of the session
  • Don’t provide lots of printouts of the template guidance, email after the session

Tracey Pratchett
Clinical Librarian
Library and Knowledge Service
Knowledge, Education, Learning & Development Division
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

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4 Responses to Introduction to teaching reflective writing for appraisal and revalidation by Tracey Pratchett

  1. stockportnhs says:

    reflective writing – I read this and I am keen to develop something like this here at Stockport. I mentioned it today at a presentation I was doing for SAS doctors and they feel it would be a good way forward for them. I will have to go through some hoops to get it off the ground but what you put together sounds ideal. Is it Ok to use your example?

  2. traceypratchett says:

    Glad you found this useful 🙂 please go ahead and use any of this information, and let me know if I can help in any way, Tracey

  3. Nicola Healey says:

    Hi Tracey, Thank you for writing such an interesting piece, I am planning on delivering a reflective session with my consultants in a few weeks. I have found a really useful examples in Learning Journals 2nd ed by Jennifer Moon ISBN: 9780415403757.

    It has a GP reflective piece, which you could use. There are four different versions of an event and she tells you how you can run the activity with a group. I am planning on using this as my example.
    Many thanks Nicki

  4. stockportnhs says:

    We finally designed a session for preceptors in Stockport which has gone down really well. We use a home grown example but it was this blog that started it all off. Thanks so much, Mary

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