I hope it is not a generalisation to say that librarians are usually quite introspective people. Moreover, those of us who have completed a librarianship qualification or chartership will almost certainly be familiar with the concept of “being a reflective practitioner”. As a result, it can be said that libraries and teaching reflective practice go hand-in-hand. Reflection is something that healthcare professionals are regularly encouraged to do. For example, nurses are expected to submit reflections as part of their revalidation every three years. However, after doing some enquiring, it turns out that they receive very little training on how to write reflections effectively. I theorised that this was a potential gap that the library services could fill. I also felt that designing and delivering my own training session would be an excellent learning opportunity. I thought it could be useful to share my reflections on designing the session and the feedback I received for those interested in developing something similar.  

Starting out, I had three key aims for the content of the session:

  • Multi-professional – Reflective practice is valuable for all healthcare staff, and as a result I wanted to ensure that it would be useful for everyone. This made designing the content a challenge as professional bodies have different requirements and templates for revalidation or CPD.
  • Group session – Currently most of the training we deliver is 1:1. However, I felt that this session would work best in a group setting so that attendees can share thoughts and learn from each other.
  • Practical – It was pointed out to me that the act of writing reflectively is a different skill to discussing it. As a result, giving attendees a few minutes to write a reflection during the session was a priority. It also means that they can use these reflections in their portfolios if they wish.

The session is 45 minutes, including a 10-minute writing activity. It starts with definition of reflection and a group discussion of the benefits and challenges. This is followed by an overview of the types of formal and informal reflection. I wanted to emphasise the value of the reflection for not only professional development, but also from a wellbeing perspective. I think this is especially pertinent for healthcare staff, who are likely to face challenging situations. Reflection can enable you to not only learn from these situations, but also process and move on from them.

I decided to discuss three models that can be used to structure reflections: Schön, Borton and the Gibbs Cycle. These were selected on the basis that they are adaptable to healthcare settings, and attendees are likely to be somewhat familiar with them. I also discuss Jenny Moon’s four levels of reflective writing because it gives a step-by-step process of how to develop a descriptive account of an event to an effective reflection.

I share my own written reflective following the Gibbs model. It is an imagined scenario set in a ward rather than a library as I theorised this would be more useful to most attendees! I decided to write about an ordinary event rather than a situation where things go catastrophically wrong. This was to demonstrate how meaningful reflections can be taken from everyday situations. Finally, attendees are encouraged to write their own reflections. I then ask them to share how they found the activity. I don’t ask anyone to share what they have wrote because reflections can be personal or about sensitive situations.

Overall, I am happy with how the sessions have been going so far, with around 10-15 attending each session. The audience has been multi-professional, as it has included nurses, physiotherapists, pre-reg nursing educators, and midwifes (alongside some supportive library colleagues!). 

Feedback has been positive. Attendees noted that they found the example of a reflection particularly useful, and there was a suggestion that more could be included. Additionally, attendees liked the recommendation of using a model to structure their reflections. It was suggested that I include John’s model as it is popular with nurses, which I will consider incorporating. The opportunity to practice writing a reflection was also appreciated. It was noted that more of a group work element would have been beneficial, such as break-out rooms for discussion. As the session is currently only 45 minutes this may be difficult to facilitate, so I am considering offering longer sessions in the future.

Going forward, I hope to continue to develop the session and reach as many people as possible. This includes targeting departments as well as offering it to all on a monthly basis. Based on the great response so far, I would encourage libraries to pursue offering reflective practice training if you aren’t already!

If you are interested in attending a future session, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. My email is bethan.morgan@mft.nhs.uk.

Bethan Morgan
Assistant Librarian
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust