Reflecting on CPD entries

Inherent in the title of this activity is the notion that professionals are committed to a career-long learning process geared to their chosen roles.  The aphorism ‘the good surgeon knows how to operate but the great surgeon knows when to operate’ reminds us that the technical aspects of our profession are important, however reflection in action can have impact. The role of reflection would appear integral to this “doing the right thing, at the right time for the right reasons”. Reflection is required by the GMC who direct you ‘not simply [to] collect’ information, and is promoted in appraisal sites with questions such as:

‘What have I learned?’

‘What changes have I made?’

‘What will I do differently?’

‘…right action is better than knowledge, but in order to do what is right we must know what is right’ - Karl the Great,King of the Lombards and the Franks

Clinical Example: 

An example may be of the dental student who learns to recognise the signs of dental decay on inspection or in a dental X-ray.  In answer to ‘what’ questions posed the attentive student learns that treatment involves the removal by drilling of decaying tooth and the skilful filling of the deficit thus created with an appropriately chosen amalgam filling.  The inquisitive student, however, asks ‘why’, enquires about the pros and cons of this approach, the potential adverse effects and the possibilities of other actions.  He may learn of other materials used elsewhere and of innovations arising from research.  Ultimately, he will notice that his patients will benefit from a more thorough discussion of the treatment options available.   

Please click here to view a screenshot of a MARS entry which reflects the example above.

Reflection Tools: Follow up ‘what’ questions with ‘so what’, or ‘what now’ and most importantly, ‘why’.


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