Reflective Practice

Reflective practice is a key skill for developing as an Allied Health Professional. Reflective practice refers to the process of thoughtfully considering your experiences. This allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and improve your practice through the reflective process.

Donald Schon (1983) introduced the concept of reflection in practice. He talked about two types of reflection: reflection on action and reflection in action. Reflection in action is the process where the clinician recognises a new problem and thinks about it while still acting.

Reflection on action is the retrospective contemplation of practice undertaken in order to uncover the knowledge used in a particular situation by analysing and interpreting the information that you recall. This involves remembering the detail of the incident, how it happened, the feelings and thoughts that it elicited. In the reflective process you may think about how the situation might have been handled differently, and whether further knowledge might have changed the situation.

Since Schon developed the reflective practice concept, reflective practice has become an important component of health practice. It is recognised as a way to learn from our experience as clinicians and is an important component of clinical reasoning. 

Remote and rural practice offers many opportunities for reflection. The issues that are faced by clients and practitioners in a remote or rural context are often complex and difficult and require problem solving to reach the best solution. Emphasis is often placed on reflection upon situations that did not go well, but it is important to reflect on situations where a situation went very well. This provides a more holistic picture of your practice, including strengths as well as weaknesses.

Reflective practice can take place privately or in a group. It may occur through keeping a reflective diary or journal, mentoring or discussions with colleagues. Other Allied Health Professionals, Allied Health Assistants, Community Based Workers, Aboriginal Health Workers, nurses and other people based in the communities can provide a deeper understanding of the context and assist in your reflection. 

Reflective Practice & You

Engaging in reflective practice will help you to grow as a clinician and develop your clinical reason. Make reflection a part of your practice. Keep a reflective journal and reflect on your practice with your manager and colleagues. Think about:

  • Do you have a good understanding of the principles of reflective practice?
  • Do you actively engage in reflective practice?
  • How can reflective practice influence your practice?

Useful Resources