Section Three

The Importance of Reflective Practice for Educators and Students

Nurses have a professional obligation to ensure their practice is consistent with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) or local jurisdictional college standards of practice and guidelines as well as legislation. This includes maintaining competence and refraining from performing activities that they are not competent in (CNO, 2002). As well, nurses need to ensure the appropriate education, support and supervision when acquiring new knowledge and skills to ensure they provide safe,
effective and ethical care (CNO, 2002). The CNO further indicates that nurses must assume responsibility for their own professional development and participate in learning processes to enhance their own practice. In order to meet all of CNO’s requirements, it is recommended that nurses engage in reflective practice and seek opportunities to incorporate reflective practice into their practice (CNO, 2002).

Reflective practice is defined as the ability to examine ones actions and experiences with the outcome of acquiring a new understanding and appreciation of the situation, and developing one’s practice and clinical knowledge (Boud, Keogh, & Walker, 1985; Caldwell, 2013). Reflective practice is associated with positive learner outcomes including but not limited to: improved situational awareness, changed perspectives, and a greater appreciation for the value of their practice (Glaze, 2001). As well, reflective practice contributes to development of new knowledge and skills, and promotes higher levels of understanding, can decrease stigma and increase confidence (RNAO, 2015d and RNAO, 2016e).

It is important that nursing faculty as well as nursing students engage in reflective practice and provide opportunities to integrate the use of reflection. Furthermore, it is imperative that educational institutions promote opportunities for faculty to engage in reflection related to the development of their teaching experiences and expertise, and that they support the ongoing development of teaching and learning activities that integrate use of reflection with students (RNAO, 2016e). Faculty can promote self- and student-reflective practices through a variety of ways, including the use of journaling, learning circles, peer sharing.

Please see Resources in this section for more information and ideas on ways to support self reflection with nursing students. Also, see Section 4.1.