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Competence: 2016 Reflective Practice Review Member Feedback

“If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change”

The Reflective Practice Review has operated for four years. Following the August webinar on the Reflective Practice Review and the introduction of the online reporting platform, members have provided comments about the program, including:  

“I cannot tell you what a difference that webinar made to the clarification of the process and why. I have to state that I was in the past “ just filling out the forms to get them done”, I wasn’t aware of the detail required for the forms/audit. I realize now how I need to document how I am implementing and learning in my practice and thus applying new acquired knowledge to evidence-based client care. I am constantly learning and changing, just didn’t realize the level of documentation I need to formalize this process. I have got some work to do….”

The College of Physiotherapists of Alberta describes the Reflective Practice Review as an educational strategy intended to result in changes to one or more of the following: knowledge, attitudes, skills, behaviours, practice or processes by encouraging critical thinking about professional competencies and practice. It requires you to self-assess and then take action to learn and improve patient care and workplace practices. As one member stated:

“Through the reflective practice exercise it brought my attention to enhancing safety and more informed approach to practice.”

The assessment and reflection tools used in the Reflective Practice Review were structured to stimulate deep thinking about practice. Your narratives demonstrate that you have higher order critical thinking skills about topics that matter to the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta, namely the competencies essential to physiotherapist practice, your knowledge of specific evidence resources used for your patient care and practice decisions, and the goals and steps you followed to learn and improve your practice.

Some members asked me what level of thinking and amount of time is expected of them as they complete their Reflective Practice Review. Even as the Manager of the Program, I don’t know how to structure my response.

When you are a health-care professional who is striving for continuous learning and practice improvement, is there any end point to thinking about learning for the purpose of patient care and practice improvement?

I tell members to aim high. In a workplace with various regulated professionals who have overlapping scopes of practice and where everyone has access to knowledge, physiotherapists must be able to demonstrate their creative and unique thinking skills about physical health rehabilitation.

When it comes to the audit, I also remind members that the audit examines members’ Reflective Practice Review records to determine whether members are structuring their learning plans to achieve meaningful changes in individual competence, patient care or health service delivery, are using current information to inform learning and practice, and to evaluate if records are complete, understandable and demonstrate critical thinking. Ultimately, it is the Competence Committee that makes the decision on whether your documents satisfactorily meet the requirements.

As for expected time spent completing the forms, I know when a physiotherapist contacts the office stating they have spent an enormous amount of time completing their narratives that they have delved deep into the self-assessment and reflection activities. If a physiotherapist has a lot to write about regarding their practice, then this means they have a deep knowledge base. When the dust has settled, that physiotherapist should sit back, review what they have created and be proud of their efforts.

Last year during the inaugural audit of members’ forms, the Competence Committee was so impressed by the quality of submissions they created a new audit category called “Comprehensive”. All physiotherapists who received a rating of “Comprehensive” should take pride in the fact that they received a stamp of excellence from their six colleagues who form the Competence Committee. The Competence Committee is exploring whether it is relevant and feasible to share back the great stories Physiotherapists are recording in their reflection documents.

Critical thinking is named as a criterion for the Reflective Practice records audit. Critical thinking is disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence. It involves a mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.

When you seek out knowledge and apply it to your physiotherapist practice, by analyzing those experiences you are creating new information, processes and practices. When the knowledge you seek is research evidence that you apply to your health-care practice (taking into consideration your patient status and work environment), that puts you in the realm of striving towards evidence–informed practice. Expecting physiotherapists to demonstrate high levels of critical thinking is reasonable for the Reflective Practice Program.

Furthermore, thinking critically is an imperative in the information age. It can be best summed up by the following quote:

“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”

On a go-forward basis if you need knowledge sources to support your thinking, Reflective Practice Review and learning activities, check out the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta’s xChange which has many resources including:

  • Finding the Evidence which links to journals, websites such as Physiopedia, PEDro, Trip
  • Webinars on a variety of safety and clinical practice topics
  • ignitephysio discussion forum

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association is also a good resource to support your thinking, learning and ongoing practice improvement.

Over the year when you sit down to complete your records, set aside the right amount of thinking and writing time to deconstruct your experiences, seek out evidence, formulate insights and share your judgments about your patient care practices and practice improvement outcomes. The time and effort spent completing your records is worth it. Time spent deep thinking about practice leads to sustained learning.

“… Individuals’ self-appraisals have a greater impact on their generation of learning goals …”

The Competence Committee thinks the Reflective Practice program is achieving the desired results when it receives comments such as these:

“I feel much more comfortable with the new platform after the initial labour pains and feel more confident in my patient care reflections. I certainly read, take courses, attend in-services etc. but have not specifically documented the sources before in my reflections. I now have a new system to keep me on track so next year should be smooth sailing. The audit criteria are reasonable and if I put myself in a patient's shoes, I certainly would expect my health-care provider to have high standards.”

“Despite the angst I have learned a few things which is what it is all about…. I am well on my way now and feel confident that next year things will flow much smoother.”

Questions or comments? The Competence Committee is interested in hearing your feedback about the program. Send your feedback to competence@cpta.ab.ca 1-800-291-2782 ext. 349.  

  • Authentic assessment: Evaluating “real life: applications of knowledge in higher education http://www.uwo.ca/tsc/resources/publications/newsletter/selected_articles/authentic_assessment.html
  • Big Dog and Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html
  • Eva, Kevin W., et al. "Which factors, personal or external, most influence students' generation of learning goals?" Academic Medicine 85.10 (2010): S102-S105. http://journals.lww.com/academicmedicine/Abstract/2010/10001/Which_Factors,_Personal_or_External,_Most.27.aspx
  • Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/michaeljackson/maninthemirror.html

Page updated: 20/04/2022