How To Reflect

I really love writing this blog.  It’s so much fun being able to just put your honest thoughts and insights down.  As long as I don’t name names and keep things as apolitical as possible, it seems that I can write about anything I want!

It’s funny though, I have to also do “reflections” as part of being a doctor.  I have to sit in front of the computer, think of things that happened at work, talk about how it made me feel, what I learnt and what I’d do differently in the future.

Ok, that’s actually quite reasonable.  I think doctors in particular are a bunch of people who have often taken themselves far too seriously and are generally “know it alls” who should be brought down back to Earth from time to time and actually think about what it is they’re doing to their patients.

Isn’t it ironic then that we also get told how to reflect?  

We are actually told by our supervisors and training directors what we should reflect about and how we should reflect…

We are literally being told what to think about and how to think about it.  Is that what reflection actually is?

If for example, I see a patient with poor control of their asthma and my real honest reflection after seeing the patient is that they’re being very irresponsible by continuing to smoke and not attending their reviews, but then after I have made my reflection (which gets stored on my eportfolio) I get left a comment by a trainer saying something along the lines of; “what made them come to see you now?  Why are they smoking?  What’s their inhaler technique like?”.  Then what am I meant to answer back?

These are all valid comments by the way, but they’re just not my reflections on the scenario.  Our professional development in terms of knowledge is meant to be via case studies and examinations.  Our reflections are meant to be for our own personal growth and introspection.

I think there’s an alternative motive behind why we are literally made to sit down and reflect in such a non-sensical way.  It’s to keep tabs on doctors.  It’s to make sure we’re not purposefully killing people and have some form of documentation about that.  It’s also so that when things do go wrong we can be held accountable.  One GP trainee who got taken to court actually had his reflections used against him!  

You know that’s fine, but why doesn’t the Royal College of General Practitioners just be honest and tell us the truth about why we’re doing what we’re doing, instead of telling us to “reflect”.


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