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Reflection Templates

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has produced a series of reflection templates which can be used when you reflect. These templates provide a structure to help facilitate high quality reflections and promote the best documentation practices. This article has summarised their eight different templates. You can explore their completed examples by visiting their reflective practice toolkit or you can read more about reflection in our article. Always remember that your thinking should be structured to capture, analyse and learn from the experience.

Eight Reflection Templates

The What, Why, How Approach

Reflection can help manage the emotional impact of professional life and guide your professional development. Reflections can be personal or they can be shared with a colleague, trainer or appraiser.

  • What do you want to reflect on?
    • This should contain enough information to allow you to recall the event.
  • Why do you want to reflect on it?
  • What do you hope to get out of this reflection?
    • How will it help you?
  • How did you and will you learn from this?
  • How will this affect your practice and make you a better doctor?
  • How have you been affected by this?
    • What are your overall conclusions from this episode?
    • How do you feel about the reflection?

What Happened? What Did You Do? What Have You Learnt? What Next?

A more detailed recording of reflections can help ensure you learn all the lessons, both positive and negative, from events. Detailed reflections can be recorded in a reflective ‘log’, however please be aware that detail is not necessary to demonstrate reflective practice. Detailed recordings serve only to help remember the incident. Instead you should use reflection to understand your strengths, weaknesses and to consider both positive and negative events.

  • What’s the issue you reflected on?
    • This is an incident, situation or feeling that gave you cause for reflection.
    • What made you stop and think?
    • There are many ways to reflect – how did you do it?
  • What did you do?
  • What did you learn from this experience?
    • How did it change your thinking or practice?
    • What have been the effects of your changes?
    • Has it improved your practice and outcomes?
    • What will you do differently in the future?
  • What next?
  • What further learning needs did you identify?
    • How will you address these?

Team Reflection

It is also important to reflect as a team. Reflective practice plays a critical part in medical education, training and ongoing development. Whereas much reflection is based on individual experiences, work is increasingly carried out in teams. Team reflection should be as integral a part of team development as it is of individual development. It is potentially a more powerful mechanism to effect change. Individuals may wish to reflect on their role and contribution within a team, but it is equally important that the team, as a group, reflects on events that are of relevance to pathways, protocols and systems of care delivery. The following model is designed to facilitate team reflection and focuses on the performance of the team rather than individual members and their contributions.

  • Describe the focus of the reflection.
    • What was the objective you set out to achieve?
    • Did you, and the team, achieve this objective?
  • Why did the team achieve or not achieve your objectives?
    • What challenges did you face?
    • How did you overcome these challenges?
  • What has the team learned from this?
  • What changes will you make in the way you work as a team?

Reflective Diaries/Logs

Reflective diaries can be used for discussion with supervisors or appraisers. Here are two examples of GP reflective logs.

GP Trainee Reflective Log (as of 2018)

  • Subject title
  • What happened?
  • What, if anything, happened subsequently?
  • What did you learn?
  • What would you do differently in future?
  • What further learning needs did you identify?
  • How and when will you address these?

Revised GP Trainee Reflective Log (as of 2019)

  • GP population group
    • e.g. people with long term conditions and disabilities.
  • Suggested capabilities
    • e.g. communication and telephone skills.
  • Brief description
    • Describe how your actions and approach link to the GP capabilities
    • Look at the portfolio word descriptors and think what you would need to change to demonstrate competence or excellence.
  • Reflect: What will I maintain, improve or stop?
  • What learning needs have you identified from the event?

Reflection Based on Schon

Personal reflection can help doctors consider the difference between what you were thinking at the time of the event and your learning looking back after the event. This can help you think differently if something similar happens in the future. The effective reflective practitioner is able to recognise and explore confusing or unique (positive and negative) events that occur during practice.

Adapted from Schon, D.A. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action.

  • Reflection-in-Action. Thinking ahead, analysing, experiencing and critically responding in the moment.
    • What were you thinking at the time?
    • What was influencing that thinking?
  • Reflection-on-Action. Thinking through subsequent to the situation, discussing and writing in your reflective journal.
    • What is your thinking about the event now? Use your time to think, discuss and review information.

Reflection Based on Rolfe

Adapted from Rolfe, G. Freshwater, D & Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection for nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide.

  • Thinking: What? A description of the event.
    • This focuses on the thoughts at the time of an experience. It will explore the thought processes when a particular action or decision was taken and how those thoughts may have impacted actions and feelings.
      • What happened?
      • What did I do?
      • What did others do?
      • What did I feel?
      • What was I trying to achieve?
      • What were the results?
      • What was good or bad about the experience?
  • Feeling: So, what? An analysis of the event.
    • Consider the significance of what happened as well as the values and feelings at the time of the event or prompted by the experience. Think about why these feelings may influence future learning or actions.
      • So, what is the importance of this?
      • So, what more do I need to know about this?
      • So, what have I learned about this?
      • So, what does this imply for me?
  • Doing: Now what? Propose a way forwards following the event.
    • This looks at the processes and opportunities that can help you learn from the experience. Use it to identify future actions, reflect on those actions and how you can use them to develop further.
      • Now what could I do?
      • Now what should I do?
      • Now what would be the best thing to do?
      • Now what will I do differently next time?

Reflection Based on the Gibbs Reflective Cycle

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by doing. A guide to teaching and learning methods.

  • Description – what happened?
  • Feelings – what were you thinking and feeling?
  • Evaluation – what was good and bad about the experience? What went well and what went badly?
  • Analysis – what sense can you make of the situation?
  • Conclusion – what else could you have done?
  • Action plan – if it arose again, what would you do?

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Reflective Practice Template

Reflection for appraisal or e-portfolios based upon the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Template. Use this template to outline skills, activities or events.

  • What is the most important thing you have learned from this experience?
  • How has this influenced your practice?
  • Looking forward, what are your next steps?