ABSTRACT: A guide to introducing and integrating reflective practices in medical education
It is a significant challenge for any medical education program to provide adequate training in medical knowledge. It can be just as daunting to include appropriate opportunity to learn about and manage the emotional impact of illness experiences, the healing process, and provider-patient relationships. While there may be only a few basic changes to the core of medical knowledge, advances in medical practice regularly have an impact on the nature of patient care. Life-long learning is essential to maintain one’s competence. However, everything doctors and other medical professionals learn about relationships with patients during their training is relevant for the rest of their career. One primary source of this learning are reflective practices. However, there is no guide or description of or comparison among the distinguishing characteristics of reflective processes. In addition, there are no criteria for the selection or integration of reflective processes in medical training or beyond. This article proposes understanding reflection as a complex, three-level process and identifies dimensions which differentiate a variety of reflective process activities. The discussion includes considerations for selecting which activities might be usefully incorporated in education curricula, and identifies conditions of medical training cultures that will support successful integration.