dr ferhan ahmed Nov 19, 2020

Following completion of a surgical procedure it is always helpful to deconstruct the processes involved and assess performance. As someone who mentors other clinicians in implant dentistry, I always give feedback and ask the mentee to reflect.

Dewey said “We do not learn from experience.  We learn from reflecting on experience.”

A series of studies from the Harvard Business School and the University of North Carolina demonstrated the value of reflection in helping people do a better job.  The research papers showed that reflecting on what you’ve done teaches you to do it better next time. 

Benefits of reflection include:

  • Forces you to think more deeply leading to greater insight and learning
  • Connects rational decision-making process with the more effective learning through experience
  • Challenges you to be honest about what you say and what you do
  • Acts as a safeguard against rash decisions

Self-reflection is not an innate gift, it requires practice.  One of the most famous models of reflection by Gibbs (1988) leads you through six stages.  The step-wise process gives structure to learning from experiences.  

  • Description of the experience
  • Feelings and thoughts about the experience
  • Evaluation of the experience, both good and bad
  • Analysis to make sense of the situation
  • Conclusion about what you learned and what you could have done differently
  • Action plan for how you would deal with similar situations in the future, or general changes you might find appropriate

Reflection is fundamental to deeper learning from experience.  Become a better clinician by adopting a reflective practice and learn to carry it out in a structured manner.