Reflective Practice:  Your BEST Professional Development Tool

With the start of a new year and scores of self-improvement resolutions underway, what better time to think about resources to help attain your goals and avoid barriers that might impede success in your self-improvement efforts.

One active, dynamic approach for self-improvement is reflective practice. Defined by Schön, “reflective practice involves thoughtfully considering one's own experiences in applying knowledge to practice while being coached by professionals in the discipline” (Schön, 1996). An essential practice of self-directed and life-long learning, reflective practice used as a professional development tool must be purposeful and result in change of beliefs, behavior, understanding of new knowledge and/or skills, and is deliberate (Jorwekar, 2017, Helyer, 2015).


Models of Reflective Practice and Experiential Learning

Suggested Approaches:

  • Set aside 15-20 minutes a day to look back and reevaluate the day’s experiences.  Ask yourself:

o   What happened?

o   What surprised you?

o   What was done right?

o   How do I feel?  Why do I feel this way?

o   Any alternatives?

o   What is needed to get better? Barriers?

  • Start a reflective journal. 
  • Network with colleagues, discuss a specific experience and identify ways for improvement.

Share your favorite approaches to reflection at #MedEdPearls


  • Helyer, R. (2015) Learning through reflection: the critical role of reflection in work-based learning
  • Jorwekar, G. (2017). Reflective practice as a method of learning in medical education: History and review of literature. International Journal of Research in Medical Science; 5(4):1188-1192.
  • Schon, D.A. (1996). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Diane Brown, MS
Office of Curriculum
Medical College of Wisconsin



#MedEdPearls Team:
Jean Bailey, PhD – Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Carrie Bowler, EdD, MS, MLSCM (ASCP) – Mayo Clinic
Kristina Dzara, PhD, MMSc (Educators ’16; Assessment ’16; HCE 2.0 ’17) – Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Shanu Gupta, MD – University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital
Jennifer Hillyer, PhD – Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Medicine
Larry Hurtubise, PhD (HCE 2.0 '16) – The Ohio State University
Anna Lama, EdD – West Virginia University School of Medicine
Machelle Linsenmeyer, EdD, NAOME (Assessment ’07) – West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Rachel Moquin, EdD, MA – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Stacey Pylman, PhD – Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Leah Sheridan, PhD – The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
Lonika Sood, MBBS, MHPE – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Washington State University
Mark Terrell, EdD – Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Stacey Wahl, PhD – Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine