The aim throughout this assignment is to critically analyse, explore and evaluate an element of study that I have used throughout my learning and reflect on how this can significantly contribute towards any future studies. As learning is a continuous process and we can never really say that our learning is complete, it is important to continually develop our learning skills both personally and professionally.
I have chosen to discuss reflection and how it has had a big impact on both my academic skills at university and also within my workplace. I am going to use the Gibbs (1998) reflective model in this assignment to help me reflect on an element of previous study and how I can incorporate it in to the future.
Reflection can be described as an examination of personal thoughts and actions and is an opportunity to recapture an experience, think about it, mull over it and evaluate it. It offers the ability to learn from past or present experiences that you think maybe of importance. This may include reflecting on a particular event or examining what you are thinking at the time. It is a learning tool in which you are able to recognise different ways of viewing a situation and offer possible solutions. It offers the opportunity to focus on how you interact with patients and colleagues and obtain a clear picture of people’s behaviour in various environments.
“Reflection involves systematic, critical and creative thinking about action with the intention of understanding its roots and processes and thus being in a position to refine, improve or change future actions” (Fish and Twinn 1997 p52)
We use reflection on a professional or personal basis as it forms part of your daily process. In our lives we are constantly reflecting on what if? Why did that happen and what could have been done differently? Reflection has formed a massive part of my academic studies and also my job role, as minute by minute and hour by hour, I am constantly reassessing the situation I am in and how can it be improved. It helps us to challenge various different types of concepts and theories and as a result we don’t see more, we see differently.
I have always been a thinker but throughout my time at university I have undertaken course work, exams and problem based scenarios which have greatly sharpened my critical thinking and reflection skills. Instead of focusing on proposed meanings or biographical backgrounds, using this skill has helped me to develop and to continuously ask “why, how, who, what and when” on many different levels.
According to Boud et al (1985) reflection is used on various daily activities such as discussions, professional practice and thoughts, as it prompts the individual to think about what has happened, the feelings that occurred in both them or others involved. Reflection can be used to improve the practice of an individual or those around them, for personal satisfaction or criticism of themselves and others.
In this instance, having recently undertaken a new Higher Education course in conjunction with my work place, I was given seven work based competencies in my department to complete. These competencies varied from core competencies set by the university and also three adapted to the department in which I worked. For example; mine were based around ECG monitoring or Coronary Interventions because I work in Cardiac. On top of these seven competencies, this semester also entailed a variety of essays, exams and presentations all of which came with a deadline. Each competency needed to be assessed for skill, attitude and knowledge and were assessed by my clinical work place supervisor and also my university work based leaner (WBL).
Being new at my job made this first semester extremely challenging, as not only did I need to be deemed competent at certain aspects of my role within such a short period of time but I also needed to learn the role from scratch.
When meeting with my work based learner for the first time we set future dates to meet up, in order for all competencies to be competed and signed off. I worked out how many weeks I had in between my meetings and basing this around my competencies it gave me a time frame on how long I had to work on each set competency. Within a couple of weeks, which felt like days, my second meeting was already here and I successfully had three of my competencies signed off by both my supervisors.
The next meeting which was arranged for two weeks’ time came around with in no time, during this meeting yet another two competencies were successfully completed leaving me with a further two to complete and then I was finished for this semester.
I was set to go on training courses which were both based around my final two competencies; these would have given me the knowledge to back up the skills for each one. Unfortunately both courses were cancelled, which resulted in me being nowhere near deemed as competent in either. I had to therefore postpone my final meeting and ask for an alternate date within two weeks’ time; fortunately my WBL was able to offer me a later date in order for me to successfully complete them. As it was coming up to Christmas and everyone was going on annual leave, I was extremely fortunate to be able to be given an extension to work on these as failure to meet the deadline on the hand in of your portfolio resulted in a failure of the whole semester.
Despite having now successfully completed each and every one, I can’t express how at the time this made me feel and the sense of panic I had. I had put a lot of hard work into each one and to obtain a failure because of poor time management on my behalf was extremely distressing and upsetting. All I kept thinking about at the time was, What if? Why didn’t I do that differently? How could I have managed it better?
Although this wasn’t a good experience, I am going to take as much as I can from this, learn about it and turn it around into a positive for next semester. I am going to highly reflect on what went wrong and what went right throughout the semester to enable me to not only successfully complete each competency within a set time frame but also to allow myself some leeway should anything arise.
Having already started to look at various ways I can do this, I have looked at various different types of models of reflection and bought myself a journal. I am now going to record everything that happens on a daily basis within this, making sure I document what I did, why I did it and my reasoning behind doing it.
I believe writing a reflective journal daily will help me to look back at my daily activities and show me what I have achieved and what I haven’t. I can therefore spend a little time out within the evenings to work on what I can do differently the next day and work on how I can achieve it.
This experience at university has not only shown me how important it is to reflect on my future studies but also how I can use it within my work place. For example; a patient was brought down to the department for a procedure and upon returning to the ward it was brought to the attention of our manager that the patient in fact had not been consented. Numerous members of the team had failed to identify this error, resulting in an investigation and an incident form being completed. Reflection in this instance was used as a team de-briefing as we discussed the event, what happened, why it happened and how it can be prevented in the future. Protocols and policies have now been put into place within our department to stop any future reoccurrences happening.
It is said that the ideal process of learning is an alteration between action and reflection (Korthagen 2001) and although this was a rare incident, it has encouraged me to keep to constantly reflecting on my daily encounters. Doing this I am taking action and reflecting on my own experiences and thinking; what could I have done better? In future how will I do better? What shall I do differently tomorrow? Gaining this information maybe a complex skill, but it will certainly help me to identify patterns, make connections therefore help me make the right decisions.
Reflection has so far taught me to have an open mind about my actions and theories and to recognise that there are many different ways in which reflection can be used as a learning tool.
Learning to reflect and using these two experiences will assist with my future studies and also help me to develop within my work role, as it has given me the knowledge to be able to assess and prioritise what is important at that point in time and how I can improve any situations or revisions should they arise, for example; cancellation of courses. In future I will take charge of what it is I need to achieve, when I need to achieve it by and how I am going to achieve it. I will no longer wait for it to come to me, I will go out to get it, utilise it and reflect on it myself, turning any negatives to into a future positive. Any further training courses will be an added bonus to my role and not be the basis of my knowledge. I will use my time effectively, reflecting on which aspect of my work will take the longest and manage it accordingly.