education, nhs, Uncategorized

Man (or woman) in the mirror….


Last night I went to see the Lego Batman Movie – it was hilarious! Like most multi layered kids movies there was something for everyone.  The main message however was around reflection. Just incase it wasn’t obvious the soundtrack included Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ just to hammer the point home.

So as I start the week as faculty on the RCPSGlasgow Clinical Education Certificate course, reflective learning was very much at the forefront of my mind.

The course itself is targeted at all grades from FY2 upwards and across the medical and dental community.  We had 12 delegates on the course predominately dental and surgeons.  The aim is to teach several aspects of clinical education including things like the clinical environment, techniques on delivery and feedback. Throughout the course reflective practice is incorporated at every opportunity.

One of the big questions on the first day was how do we turn superficial learners into deep reflective learners? Or to put it another way how do we facilitate the transfer of learning from the classroom to the real world?

It prompted a fair bit of discussion.  There was general agreement that we should be moving away from didactic teaching to a more applied, problem based learning.  This isn’t exactly a new concept. Quite a few medical schools have done this already with varying degrees of success. Most agreed that at undergraduate level a balance needs to be struck but how do you incorporate reflective learning? More to the point what are you reflecting on at this level?

So mulling on this we moved to the postgraduate world where the problem seems to be the other way round.  I had previously commented that in my experience doctors ‘expect to be taught’. There are teaching programs across the specialties with defined learning objectives delivered by senior medical staff in a lecture style.  Departmental teaching is also pretty didactic (with the odd bit of discussion at the end, usually Consultant lead).  Even conferences are turn up, sit down, listen, tick your CPD box, move on.

Where is the reflection?

Now I appreciate that CPD diaries and e-portfolios do ask us to reflect ‘what did I learn?’ but do they really capture those practice changing moments? Or is the reflection merely dictated by the predefined learning outcomes?  Do I really care at the end of the day…?

I think proper reflection should at its heart have continuous professional development and patient safety. There is the process mapping and dissection of a clinical skill or scenario.  What I like to call the mechanics of learning.  I think though what we struggle with in the medical profession is the softer side.  For example we spoke about different learning styles.  To some a this was a revelation in itself.  Are you a visual or an auditory learner? Do you operate in the cognitive or the psychomotor domain?

For me the discussion brought out other thoughts. I came to the conclusion that I need to come out my comfort zone and use learning techniques that I find hard.  If we believe that education should be taught through the learner perspective I think I might be disadvantaging them by only using techniques that come naturally to me.

And so this is why I love education at the end of the day.  It has the power to challenge preconceived notions and learn new skills but most of all it has the power to refresh the mind.


‘If you want to make the world a better place

Take at yourself and then make that


(nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah….)’

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