The importance of reflection in good competency evidence

Your ability to reflect on practice is important and it will help you to progress and improve your practice.


It is not sufficient to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting on this experience, it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost.

(Gibbs, 1988, p9)


Types of reflective writing

To achieve good reflective writing, you could:

  • reflect on what could or did go wrong rather than provide evidence of everything ‘going perfectly’. For example, this could be a reflection on a patient interaction or an observation
  • reflect on an adverse incident in the department. What procedures have been put in place to avoid this from happening again and is there anything else that could be done?
  • reflect on visits to different departments or areas of practice. For example, produce a reflective account of a visit to A&E and of the practices observed there. You could include mind maps and charts in this kind of account
  • use simulation to generate reflection. Simulations can be useful for events and situations that rarely happen
  • write a reflective piece of an event you have attended
  • with a patient’s consent, film your encounter with them and afterwards you can critically reflect on your performance. You could focus on your communication skills and how they might be improved
  • produce a reflective summary of a discussion with your training officer. Consider what was learned from this, that will be put into practice in future events?

How to write reflectively

Writing reflectively for the purpose of an assessment is not simply describing something that happened, nor is it everything you think and feel.  Being reflective means critically evaluating a task, a test or experience. And in many cases the reflection should seek to draw on standards and frameworks and guidance to evaluate the experience.

The points below are designed to help you produce reflective evidence about key events and experiences for your competencies.

  • What are you planning to do?
  • How does this meet your learning outcome?
  • What are you hoping to learn?
  • Describe what actually happened
  • How did you feel about this?
  • What do you think others felt? For example, a patient or colleague
  • Reflect on whether the event went as planned, including both negative and positive comments
  • What feedback did your training officer or assessor give you?
  • What did you learn from this experience?
Next time
  • What will you do differently next time?
  • What changes will you need to make?
  • What are the implications for others that you may work with?
Literature, standards, frameworks of good practice
  • What do the frameworks and guidance say? How did the reality compare with them?
  • What can you do to improve the process or procedure?
  • What changes if any could you recommend?

Download a copy of the reflective grid below to help get you started.


Further reading

Books: Gibbs, G (1988). Learning by doing: a guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.

The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books. Williams, K, Woolliams, M and Spiro, J (2012). Reflective Writing. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.