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08th March 2016

What is Reflective Practice and Why is it so Important?

As part of our commitment to our professional development, GDC registrants will need to develop the skill of Reflective Practice to recognise the impact of their CPD on patient care. Significant changes in CPD rules for dental registrant are scheduled for introduction in 2017. In preparation for this, a pilot began in February 2016 designed to engage with dental professionals and obtain feedback on their experience of the new scheme.

The dental profession is not alone in prescribing the ongoing professional development activities of its members. Historically attending courses and acquiring the certificates was an acceptable way to measure CPD, this approach now termed as in-put CPD as it solely measures time spent on CPD activities rather than what has been learned.

New requirements will feature a formal requirement for reflective practice to determine how the dental professionals learning and professional development will benefit their patients. This is termed Out-put measures CPD and requires the learning provider the set out measurable aims and learning objectives and for participants to use reflective practice techniques to consider how their learning will be used in day-to-day patient care.

A standardised framework for measuring learning favoured by the Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors (COPEND) is the Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy approach, (Taxonomy simply means classification) in which the value of CPD is distinguished through the measurement of the following three domains of learning.

  • Cognitive: This level of learning measures increased knowledge following CPD activity and is focused on what you know following the training activity.
  • Affective: This level focuses upon analysis and evaluation of the learning and the resulting changes in attitudes, values and beliefs. It considers the willingness of the learner to develop new working practices as a result of their learning experience.
  • Psycho-Motor: Concerns how the learner will use their learning in the future. This includes skills such as planning using SMART Objectives that can be audited and evaluated.

Using Reflective Practice

New CPD requirements will formalise the development of a Professional Development Plan at the start of each a five year cycle. Reflective practice will be used to evaluate progress and identify how learning enhances patient care.

This information should be kept as a record on the CPD log, or written on the back of certificates provided by course providers. It is also logical to link this refection directly to the aims and learning outcomes originally specified by the training provider.

This type of analysis can be used to enhance a vast range of CPD activities such as appraisals, team meetings, PPT Feedback analysis and peer view meetings or Quality Circle activities.

The Skills of Reflective Practice

To get the most from reflective practice requires the individual to develop a range of skills such as audit skills. We all use these skills in our day- to- day life; now we need to learn to adapt them for use in our professional development.

Say for example you usually shop at an out of town superstore, one day you decide to go to the local shops instead. After having shopped in both places you are able to compare the cost, convenience, customer service, ambiance etc. After making these comparisons you will choose where to go for your shopping in future.

These are the principles of audit and evaluation that can be applied to your learning experiences, so anything objective such as cost, time spent, range of goods available can be measured by audit. Other aspects such as the ambience and customer services are more suited to evaluation as they rely on subjective judgement- likes and dislikes. In this way we are able to make effective ongoing choices and get the most from our investment in our continuous development.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Glenys Bridges

QCS Dental Specialist

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