NMC highlights importance of nurses’ ‘reflection’ on practice

The NMC’s chief executive and registrar, Andrea Sutcliffe, has called on employers to do all they can to ensure that nurses and midwives are supported and receive sufficient time to reflect, despite current pressures.

“Reflective practice helps professionals employed across all manner of health and care settings”

Andrea Sutcliffe

The leaders of nine other regulators, including the NMC, have banded together to stress the benefits and importance of good reflective practice among professionals in the health and care sector.

They have signed a joint statement – Benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner – which outlines the processes and advantages of being a good reflective practitioner for individuals and teams (see PDF attached below).

The NMC noted that reflection was how registrants could “assess their professional experiences”, recording and documenting insight to aid their learning and identify opportunities to improve.

Reflection allows an individual to “continually improve the quality of care they provide and gives multi-disciplinary teams the opportunity to reflect and discuss openly and honestly”, said the NMC.

The joint statement makes clear that teams should be encouraged to make time for reflection, as a way of aiding development, improving wellbeing and deepening professional commitment.

It states that reflection plays an important role in health and care work, and brings benefits to the public, people using services and patients and their carers.

For example, such benefits include fostering improvements in practices and services, and assuring the public that health and care professionals are continuously learning and seeking to improve.

The statement reinforces that reflection is a key element of development and educational requirements and, in some professions, for revalidation as well.

In addition, it makes clear that patient confidentiality is vital, and that registrants will not be asked by regulators to provide their personal reflective notes to investigate a concern about them.

Guidance is also provided on how to get the most out of reflection, including having a systematic and structured approach with proactive and willing participants.

The NMC highlighted that it made clear that any experience, positive or negative and however small – perhaps a conversation with a colleague – can generate meaningful insight and learning.

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Andrea Sutcliffe

Andrea Sutcliffe

Multi-disciplinary and professional team reflection is viewed as an excellent way to develop ideas and improve practice, it added.

Meanwhile, the regulators also restated a continued commitment to reflect across their own organisations.

Commenting on the statement, Ms Sutcliffe said: “In these challenging times for health and social care, it’s so important that collectively we do all we can to support our health and care professionals, and their employers, in devoting time to individual, reflective, personal and honest thinking.

“While the health and care system may be at full stretch, we know from our own revalidation work… that reflective practice helps professionals employed across all manner of health and care settings to really focus on how they can demonstrate they are living the standards as set out in the code,” she said.

She added: “I am confident that individuals who are given the time and support to reflect – who are encouraged to celebrate what has gone well; who can be challenged to think about what can be done differently next time and who are motivated and inspired to continually improve – are more likely to deliver better, safer care now and for the future.”

The statement was also signed by the chief executives of the General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland.