Reflection is a professional habit that all doctors should have. No-one would want to be treated by doctors who never considered how effective their care was or whether it could be any better.

Reflection should be something you do all the time. It is part of your professional training. Like any habit, reflection can be such a subconscious activity that it can be hard to be aware of it in order to write it down.

You might find that your appraiser helps your reflection through active listening, careful questioning and feedback. The appraisal discussion is an important trigger to generate new reflective insights which can be captured in your appraisal summary. You do not have to record all your reflections; this would be disproportionate. It is important to find a method of capturing reflection that works for you and to keep it simple and proportionate. Some people are more natural reflectors than others. You might find it helpful to understand your own preferred learning style. Discuss any concerns with your appraiser; they have training and knowledge to help you.

Documented reflection should be brief and to the point as far as possible. Capturing the key learning points that have influenced, or will influence, your practice, and thinking about any changes that you may make as a result can be recorded in bullet points, a couple of sentences, or a short paragraph. Some doctors are experimenting with recording brief audio reflections. Do what is appropriate for the specific reflection. Experiment with a variety of styles. Some methods may work better for some types of learning than others. If you are doing a postgraduate qualification then you might want to include a whole reflective essay, but in most circumstances, this would be disproportionate. Some doctors find structured reflective templates that walk you through a process of reflection helpful. Others prefer not to be constrained.

We recommend that you keep it simple and record what is meaningful to you.

We recommend that you provide only one reflective note for each CPD activity, even if the event lasts all day. The reflective note should capture the most important lessons learned and any changes that you plan to make as a result. Your appraiser does not want to read a summary of what you looked up online, the whole article, or all that you were taught at an educational event or learned at a conference. If you find it helpful to make notes on the detail, you should do so, as a personal choice based on your learning preferences, but it is not important to your appraiser.

You should reflect on the impact of what you have learned on what you already do, or plan to do, in your supporting information for your appraisal. Ideally, your CPD log should be a record of your most important and relevant learning throughout the past twelve months in a succinct and useful format.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry