Notes on Reflective Writing and Personal Development Plans

Several authors have described reflective practice. This reference may be useful:

‘Reflective practice involves quiet thought and contemplation of usual and customary professional actions, ideally in protected time away from service commitment’ (Bulley 1999).

Foundation Dentists are encouraged to be reflective and to take initiatives to identify and address their educational needs. They record event analyses and self-assessments in their Professional Development Portfolio. This reflective writing helps structure their reflective thinking, distance them from some of the powerful emotions surrounding certain events, and plan their learning.

It is hoped that trainers will carry out some reflective writing and prepare and update a Personal Development Plan. This may be helpful for CPD, give value to the process of critical reflection and will lead to FDs giving it more status.

Reflective writing

A template is provided if you wish to use it.

Choose an event to write about in more detail. Try to evaluate what happened and how you performed. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Did you discuss the event with a colleague and did this help. What you would do the same or differently if the same circumstances occurred again. If you identified any educational needs in the process, write them down also.

You would not be expected to write more than 100 words in an event analysis. If you were to write one event analysis about an achievement and one about a concern this would be excellent.

Personal Development Plans

A trainer should be a dentist who has developed a critical faculty for self-assessment and can demonstrate this. Writing a personal development plan will help demonstrate this ability. You might consider your various professional roles and identify strengths and areas for development. Dialogue with a trusted colleague should enhance the process. Should you wish to use it, a South West CPD Planner has been enclosed with this pack. If your reflective writing has identified educational needs try to incorporate them into the plan.

“ Dentists identify their training needs in annual discussion with a
colleague of their choice and design their own training plans, whose
implementation is discussed at the next training review. These
discussions are confidential.”

(BDA advice on Clinical Governance)

A personal development plan could include:-

  • Written learning objectives derived from a self-assessment
  • A plan of how the objectives will be met
  • Any necessary resources
  • A proposed date for completion
  • A record of progress

Some questions you could ask :

Present Situation
What are my professional and personal goals?
Where am I now?
What skills do I have?
What CPD have I done recently?
What went well?

A learning agenda
What do I want to get better at?
What do I need to do or learn?
What new roles do I have?

How should I proceed?
Are there any barriers to progress?
Can I overcome them?

How will I know I have succeeded?

Reflective writing template

Event analysis

Description of event

Thoughts and feelings (now and at the time)

What I have learned

What I will do the same or differently next time

Any educational needs identified