Critical reflection may be defined as analysing, observing, questioning of assumptions and learning through experience. Critical reflection is thought upon at all times by most people on a day-to-day basis. Predominantly reflection is done when an error has occurred. Whether it be reflecting on a personal relationship, work, family or even Critical Reflection critical reflection about one’s upbringing. Nursing professionals are required to critically reflect at all times so to help them learn from their mistakes, be empowered, keep positive work consistent and importantly to provide the best care possible to all their patients. There are a number of tools available to help nurses and midwives through this process.
Most nursing professionals have faced some sort of negativity, mistakes by others or themselves sometime in their profession. Critical reflection is an important process for nurses to be able to not only deal with these situations but to help them learn and grow from them so if they ever face a similar situation they are equipped with the right knowledge and tool. One tool that is available to nursing professionals, for their critical reflection process, is the Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.
The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle consists firstly of the description of what happened followed by the feeling on the situation, evaluation of the experience, analysis, conclusion and lastly the action plan if a similar situation occurred (Dempsey and Wilson, 2010). Although the critical reflection process may seem simple it may be in depth depending on the situation at hand. Lucas (2012) states that many people don’t understand the concept, process and importance of critical reflection and may not take the time to think about and utilise the critical reflection tools such as the Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.
Williams (n.d.) writes that critical reflection is well processed by students in theory but when it comes to actioning it in their practical it is often not done in the right way or order. The life expectancy of indigenous people in Australia is 12 years less than non-indigenous people meaning that critical reflection tools may need a change and there has been a wide curricular reform in medical education (Ewen, Mazel and Knoche, 2011). Clinical reflection in clinical placement is the best way to learn for nursing students (Henderson, 2011).
Change is happening at all times. Change is happening to social, structural and political issues and with this health professionals need to always critically reflect with the demands of society and the growing population of the world (Bowden, n.d.). It is highly important for nurses to critically reflect on a day-to-day basis because their patient and situation vary. Apart from doctors, nurses administer all medications and thus have to have a great reflection tool so to enhance their knowledge and understanding as to not make any errors. Reflection is key for nursing professionals not only because they will provide the best care possible but also for the nurses own peace of mind so they can have a great balance in their home and work domains. In Australia there are policy and procedure regulators for nursing professionals.
Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia sets the standards for human rights, international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights and international covenant on civil and political rights. Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia Supports the Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia who set the standards for the way professional nurses are to advocate their profession within and outside their domains. National Competency Standards for the Registered Nurse sets standards to the regulatory framework to help nurses and midwives achieve competent and safe care. Nursing professionals have to follow policies and procedures at all times in their work thus the importance of critical reflection. Conclusion
In conclusion, the evidence to critically reflect is overwhelming. Nursing professionals are expected to provide the best care possible because the public naturally entrust in them. Although critical reflection is a natural process in most peoples thought process, there are tools available that will aid in the reflection process, such as The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle. It can now be identified how important it is to critically reflect, for nurses, because patients’ lives are usually in the hands of the nurses who look after them. Government bodies set the standards for all nurses and midwives in the way they should advocate their profession, care for their patients and importantly for nurses to have the right education and learning strategies. Reflection
Researching for this essay has made me appreciate nursing professionals more than I already had. I truly now understand the importance of critical reflection. Before I started the Bachelor of Nursing degree, I thought my studies would predominantly be about how to slap on a band aid, heal wounds and learn about rules and regulations but now I have realised that it takes a whole lot more to be a great nurse. We not only need to learn the practical side of nursing but more importantly be emotionally ready to become a registered nurse or midwife.
I have read so many articles and books for this essay and it makes me even more proud to become a nurse and one day my dream of becoming a midwife. I am 28 years old and am at university for the first time in my life. I was scared when I first started university but now I have been reassured that I am on the right path and am very excited for my future and what it may bring.