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Our response to new guidance on reflective practice

12 September 2018


We welcome the guidance on reflective practice for doctors, issued today by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the UK Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans, the General Medical Council and the Medical Schools Council.

The guidance brings greater clarity to what has been a confused picture about the safety of reflective practice within medicine and healthcare. We hope the practical advice contained in the guidance will help medical professionals to continue to reflect on their work with greater security.

Reflective practice is important, as the guidance states, for individuals’ wellbeing as well as their learning and development. In our role supporting the adoption of Schwartz Rounds within healthcare organisations in the UK and Ireland, we recognise the significant impact that reflective practice can have on wellbeing. Indeed, the latest evidence shows that participation in Schwartz Rounds halves the incidence of psychological distress among those who attend regularly.

Peter Wilkinson, a consultant cardiologist and clinical lead for Schwartz Rounds at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, adds: “Reflection on practice can identify learning points experienced during clinical work to inform personal development. As a clinician I have seen how Schwartz Rounds can allow emotions to be expressed openly and by reflecting on these, the individuals telling the story and their audience can share their feelings leading to a reduction in stress and professional isolation.”

We believe that NHS trusts and other healthcare organisations should actively seek opportunities to enable reflective practice, and promote them to their staff.

We will be issuing a briefing, for Schwartz Rounds facilitators and clinical leads within our network, about reflective practice and how it can be managed within the Schwartz Round format.