Core Modules

module 2 | Activity 17: Reflective practice

Reflective practice is a useful strategy for managing stressful situations. Reflective practice provides insight, examines assumptions and helps healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of why something occurred.

In terms of palliative care, reflective practice involves:[1]

  • Reflecting on your experiences with a person affected by a life-limiting illness
  • Exploring how their illness and treatment plan affected you
  • Examining how the advice you provided affected their care
  • Reflecting on how your involvement with this person affected you personally, professionally and emotionally.

This allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and improve your practice through the reflective process.[1, 2]

Reflection can increase confidence and empathy, and help to identify appropriate professional boundaries and strategies for avoiding compassion fatigue and burnout.[3]

Reflective practice aims to help you learn from a particular practical experience through a personal consideration of the event, the emotions it evoked and the consequences of the experience.[3]

In practice it involves the processes of experiencing, interpreting and learning, as outlined in the following table:[1-3]

Experiencing Retelling a practice story so that the experience/event is revisited again in more detail

”What, when, where, who, why did/didn’t the event or outcome occur?”

“How did it affect me:

  • Personally
  • Professionally?”
Interpreting Clarifying and explaining the meaning of a situation

”What were external factors?  My role? The other person’s role in the event?”

Learning Creating new insights and integrating them into your existing awareness and knowledge

”What have I learnt and what changes can I make in the future, from this event?”

The following expert opinion highlights the importance of self-care and reflective practice to support your overall wellness:

  1. Undertake a reflective practice on an uncomfortable or emotional situation that you were involved in.
    • The experience: what, when, where, who, why did the event happen?
    • Interpret: what were external factors, my role, the other person’s role in the event?
    • Learn: what have I learned and what changes can I make in the future, from this event?
  1. Salins, N., Reflective Practice in Palliative Care. Indian journal of palliative care, 2018. 24(1): p. 1-2.
  2. Braun, U.K., et al., The utility of reflective writing after a palliative care experience: can we assess medical students’ professionalism? Journal of palliative medicine, 2013. 16(11): p. 1342-1349.
  3. Taylor, B., Reflective Practice for Healthcare Professionals: A Practical Guide. 3 ed. 2010: Open University Press.