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Reflective practice


MRTs reflect on their practice to set goals for professional development


+ Development based on reflection

  • Research has shown that continuing professional development (CPD) is successful when accompanied by reflective practice:1
    • The learning needs of each individual are assessed and addressed
    • Activities are directed by self-identified goals and are relevant to an individual’s professional practice
    • Current and future learning needs are continually reassessed

  • Reflective practice allows professionals to learn effectively from their experience and move towards continuous improvement of professional practice.2,3
    • It involves critical analysis of all facets of professional life from reflection on clinical experiences, evaluating current competencies and developing career paths2

  • The benefits of reflective practice include:
    • An active approach to learning that facilitates understanding and integration of new knowledge3
    • An opportunity to integrate personal beliefs, attitudes, values and local professional culture3
    • Heightened self-awareness, with the capacity to engage in self-monitoring and self-regulation3
    • Enhanced professionalism with greater autonomy and responsibility for future learning and career planning4

+ Personal reflection

  • Personal reflection is a critical stage in the learning cycle wherein the MRT identifies gaps and opportunities for development of knowledge and skill.
  • It is helpful to assume the perspective of an external observer in reflective practice, identifying underlying assumptions and feelings and reflecting on how these affect practice.2
  • Reflection should be embraced as a natural part of everyday work.
    • A diary is a useful tool to collect thoughts and reflections over time for use in deeper reflection and planning

  • MRTs should set aside time for deeper, as well as ongoing, reflection on practice over a period of time.
    • This time is used to identify trends, opportunities for professional growth and gaps in knowledge or skills
    • This deeper reflection is documented and used to inform the development of learning goals and planning of activities

  • Some questions that can guide reflection on practice include:2
    • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
    • What opportunities for professional growth are there in my practice?
    • What are my goals for my career in the future? 
    • What skills do I struggle with?
    • What topics do I feel I need more education on?
    • Do I know about the latest practices and technology in my discipline?

+ Learning plan

  • A learning plan helps document and organize reflection on practice and turns these reflections into educational goals and opportunities.2
  • Following reflection, the first stage of creating a learning plan is the establishment of professional and practice-related learning goals, which organize learning and determine priorities.
  • Frameworks, such as the SMART principle, help MRTs stay focused in their planning and develop goals and priorities that are challenging, but also practical and achievable:2
    • Specific – Goals are straightforward and clearly defined with a purpose, an outcome, desired benefit, and what is required
    • Measureable – Goals are measurable with tangible outcomes. This helps keep the professional accountable to outcomes and timelines  
    • Achievable – Goals are set within reach, taking into account all current responsibilities
    • Realistic – Goals are practical and within the availability of resources, knowledge and time
    • Time – Goals are bound by a timeframe, removing vagueness from a commitment

  • Once goals are established, MRTs can choose from a range of formal and informal activities in order to meet the stated goals of the plan.
    • The action plan identifies the ways in which goals will be met 
    • The plan also documents the specific nature of the activity, and the timeframe within which the goal is to be fulfilled 
    • There may also be a reflection on how the activity could be translated into applications for clinical practice

  • A comprehensive and up to date learning plan also serves as a record of proposed and completed continuing practice development.
  • A broader discussion on learning plans, including a template plan with example targets and activities, can be found in the CAMRT’s Continuing Competence Through Professional Development guide.2 
  • Provinces with mandatory CPD programs provide tools and templates to develop and maintain learning plans that address provincial CPD requirements and integrate these into a record of CPD activities.5

+ Feedback

  • Feedback in the context of reflection and continuing professional development refers to a positive communication between two or more colleagues with a mutual respect and a mutual goal of developing each other personally and professionally.6
    • It is an important tool to strengthen the insight gained through personal reflection
    • It promotes shared reflection and reciprocal learning through a professional partnership6

Seeking and receiving feedback

  • MRTs consider who is most appropriate and capable of providing feedback and guidance on their practice reflections and proposed learning plans:
    • Team leaders 
    • Colleagues 
    • Physicians (e.g., radiologists, oncologists) 
    • Other health care professional(s)

  • In discussions about professional practice and goals, MRTs relate their own reflections on past practice experiences and share ideas about learning goals and activities.7
    • Information and thoughts are prepared prior to discussion
    • Self assessment and reflections are used to guide the discussion
    • Abilities, strengths and areas for growth, learning and enhancement are addressed clearly and specifically
    • Possible questions include: “What do I do best?” “Is there some aspect of my practice I can improve?”

  • Feedback is received with an open mind.
    • MRTs take time to listen, understand and consider the feedback given 
    • MRTs ask questions and seek clarification on how to enhance their practice and grow professionally

Providing feedback

  • MRTs may be asked by their peers to provide feedback on practice and learning plans.
  • In these circumstances, it is important to be organized, thoughtful and honest:
    • An understanding of the peer’s request for feedback is important
    • Feedback is directed toward the specifically identified needs of the peer
    • Comments are both supportive and constructive and aimed at creating opportunity for exploring practice strengths, needs and ideas
    • A thoughtful tone taken with attention to feelings and non-verbal cues

+ Continuous evaluation

  • Conclusions reached through the assessment and review process should form part of a continuous evaluation cycle that informs future CPD planning.8
  • A record of CPD activities, tracked and evaluated in relation to the overall learning plan, is important in helping MRTs consider:8
    • What new knowledge and skills have been developed
    • How this has translated to improvements/changes in practice
    • Whether goals from the learning plan have been achieved
    • What must be done to maintain this new competence
    • Whether learnings could be shared with colleagues, and, if so, how
    • Whether the right approach is being taken to CPD

+ References

  1. Henwood SM. Continuing Professional Development in Diagnostic Radiography: A grounded Theory Study. PhD thesis. South Bank University, London, UK. 2003.
  2. Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists. Continuing Competence Through Professional Development: A guide for program and professional portfolio development. Available at: Accessed November 3, 2014. 
  3. Mann K, Gordon J, MacLeod A. Reflection and reflective practice in health professions education: a systematic review. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract 2009;14(4):595-621. 
  4. Brigley S, Young Y, Littlejohns, McEwen. Continuing education for professionals: a reflective model. Postgrad Med J 1997; 73: 23-26. 
  5. College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario. Quality Assurance Program. QA Portfolio. Available at: Accessed November 3, 2014. 
  6. Eisen MJ. Peer-based professional development viewed through the lens of transformative learning. Holist Nurs Pract 2001;16(1), 30-42. 
  7. College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia. Professional Development. Peer feedback: Learning from each other. Available at: Accessed November 3, 2014.
  8. Construction Industry Council. Continuing Professional Development: Best Practice Guidance European CPD Framework and CIC Users Guide to Managing your own CPD. Available at: h Accessed November 3, 2014.




July 29, 2014


Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists
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