MRTs reflect on their practice to set goals for professional development
- Research has shown that continuing professional development (CPD) is successful when accompanied by reflective practice1:
- 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 practice2,3.
- 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 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 practice2.
- 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 include2:
- 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?
- A broader discussion on reflective practice can be found in Useful links
- A learning plan helps document and organize reflection on practice and turns these reflections into educational goals and opportunities2.
- 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 achievable2:
- 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 guide2.
- 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 activities5.
- 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 professionally6.
- 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
- 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 activities7.
- 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
- 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
- Conclusions reached through the assessment and review process should form part of a continuous evaluation cycle that informs future CPD planning8.
- A record of CPD activities, tracked and evaluated in relation to the overall learning plan, is important in helping MRTs consider8:
- 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
Henwood SM. Continuing Professional Development in Diagnostic Radiography: A grounded Theory Study. PhD thesis. South Bank University, London, UK. 2003.
Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists. Continuing Competence Through Professional Development: A guide for program and professional portfolio development. Available from: http://www.camrt.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/MOC_English_Mar15-13.pdf. [Accessed 31 Jan 2018]
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.
Brigley S, Young Y, Littlejohns, McEwen. Continuing education for professionals: a reflective model. Postgrad Med J. 1997; 73: 23-26.
College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario. Quality Assurance Program. QA Portfolio. Available from: https://www.cmrto.org/what-we-do/quality-assurance/qa-components/professional-development-plan/. [Accessed 3 Nov 2014]
Eisen MJ. Peer-based professional development viewed through the lens of transformative learning. Holist Nurs Pract. 2001;16(1), 30-42.
College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia. Professional Development. Peer feedback: Learning from each other. Available from: https://www.crnbc.ca/QA/Documents/peerfeedback.pdf. [Accessed 3 Nov 2014]
Construction Industry Council. Continuing Professional Development: Best Practice Guidance European CPD Framework and CIC Users Guide to Managing your own CPD. Available from: http://media.inzu.net/fab410910808ebb31806f2ceae36320c/mysite/downloads/CPDPublication1.pdf. [Accessed 3 Nov 2014]