The role of reflective practice in professional development
Samantha J Fontaine
Reflective practice (RP) is a process of critical evaluation and self-assessment whereby one deeply explores an event in order to learn from experiences, and consequently undertakes a change in perception or behaviour. RP can benefit practice through enhancing professionalism and encouraging self-directed learning (SDL). SDL is an important part of the lifelong learning undertaken by registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) who participate in ongoing continuing professional development (CPD). CPD is traditionally delivered using an input-based model, where the time in attendance of activities, such as lectures and seminars, are accrued. Although this model ensures a learning activity has been undertaken, it does not ensure any actual learning has occurred, and whether there has been a resultant increase in professional competency. As such, an outcome-based model of CPD has been proposed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) which includes planning, doing, recording and reflecting. The addition of RP to this new cycle ensures that RVNs explore the completed CPD activity more deeply, and consider what specific learning has occurred. This learning can then be measured as outcomes, which may include, for example, improvements to patient care, client service delivery, local processes, the wider organisation, or the management of staff or students. There have been concerns expressed within the profession about the proposed move to an outcome-based CPD model, including the increased time that measuring and recording outcomes will add to the process. If the implementation of this new model is to prove successful, these concerns will need to be addressed.
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