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  • 18 January 2018
  • 3 min read

The importance of self reflection in nursing

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When we set out on our paths to become clinicians, we often have an idea of the nurse we hope to be.

Whilst on placements during our training, we encounter many nurses who mentor and support our development.

Many are great examples of good nursing. Others not so good.

Once qualified, we enter the workplace and are assigned a mentor to support our development as we go through our preceptorship role and learn the ropes and reality of what being a nurse is.

Despite the 3 years of training, nothing truly prepares you for what it’s like as a newly qualified nurse with the weight of the world, and responsibility of your own caseload upon your shoulders.

Even being qualified for many years, the importance of role modelling and self-reflection of our own practice continues. We do this after every event as we debrief and look at how things could have gone better, but also what we did well.

This is an everyday part of nursing and is now formalised within the Revalidation process.

Recently, I have found myself taking on a new role, within a new organisation and rediscovering the feeling of being newly qualified.

Not knowing where to put my coat, how the shift will run, and not being able to just get on with things in the way that I have done as a member of the established team is an unnerving feeling.

Being mentored and supported by someone who is an exceptional role model in the job is vital to establish good behaviours and habits right from the start. And this is what I experienced.

On my first shifts I have been placed with a nurse who not only acted with textbook professional behaviour, she was encouraging and supportive.

Over the period of a couple of days, as I grew in understanding and competence and she established my level of ability, we worked together to provide patient care.

It was a valuable experience to be the student once more and consider a fellow professional, thinking, ‘I want to be as good as her.' 

It is said that nurses eat their young. Supporting and developing your junior staff and students whilst encouraging their independence is vital to developing good, safe and competent staff.

Being a role model who exemplifies best practice is an important part of this. We are teachers and students as well as clinicians.

Even if you've been qualified for many years, as I have, we should never assume that we know enough to not be ready to go back to the beginning.

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About the author

Since qualifying in Adult Nursing in 2002 I’ve worked as a specialist nurse with the NHS, and in the private sector as a general nurse and sessional nurse for a hospital at home team (I’ve been about a bit!).

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