Appraisal and revalidation support for medical professionals

Reflection advice

Here are some reflective templates to help you in your reflections for appraisal.

We are told that as professionals we learn and progress through reflecting on what we do. (1-3) That’s good and makes sense. However, I sometimes wonder if we have an agreed idea of what reflection actually is?

I used to think reflection was a process of doing some personal thinking and jotting the results down on paper. I now see it as a much more dynamic process that goes something like this… I identify a gap in my knowledge or practice, perhaps because I see a patient and I don’t know what to do. I do some thinking. I research on-line. I discuss with colleagues. In this way, I make progress towards filling my knowledge gap. I summarise my efforts as reflective notes in my learning log. At the heart of reflection, there is personal research and discussion with colleagues and a drive to improve and learn. (3)

Learning groups are an excellent aid to reflection, not least because they provide that opportunity for colleague discussion. Coffee chats with colleagues after surgery, however informal, also afford excellent reflection opportunities. Seek these discussions out, whenever you can!

Here is an example of my own reflective notes. Key for me is to include brief mention of my reading, chats with colleagues and practical improvements.

Date Educational activity Reflections Credits
Nov 2012 Good Clinical Practice half day course: covering how to run research trials. Castle Hill, Hull. Excellent information on trial procedures, required due to my role in research for the practice as per PDP. Discussed with research nurse and administrator on car journey back to surgery as the provided reading material suggests we have some areas for improvement: agreed we need lockable metal filing cabinet to store trial paperwork and better audit trails of our research meetings: agreed how to set these systems up and to do so within next couple of weeks. Helpful to have SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, time-limited) objectives from this meeting. 4

Download Reflective Templates here >



  1. Albanese MA (2006) Crafting the reflective lifelong learner: why, what and how. Medical Education40: 288-90
  2. Epstein RM (1999) Mindful practice. Journal of the American Medical Association. 282: 833-38
  3. Aronson L, Kruidering M, Niehaus B, O’Sullivan P. (2012) UCSF LEaP (Learning from your Experiences as a Professional): Guidelines for Critical Reflection. MedEdPORTAL; 2012. Available from: accessed 27/11/12.
All content © Bill Laughey 2015