Reflective practices for veterinary nurses
Reflective practice is a skill that is currently under-utilised in the veterinary industry. Teaching reflectiveness to our veterinary nurses and educators is part of looking at how we can improve mental wellbeing and sustainability in our industry. For her Master of Professional Practice, Veterinary Nursing lecturer Clare Morton surveyed educators and veterinary nurses about their views on reflective practices and how they were used in the classroom and vet clinics.
Using a grounded theory approach to analysis of the survey data, Clare's findings showed a wide range of understanding of reflectiveness and how it can be used. Our educators range from those who practice reflectiveness to those who are unsure of what it means. This research revealed two different types of reflective practice:
- We seek to teach our students reflective writing to an academic level and aim to see a learning progression throughout their studies.
- Reflective practices in the veterinary industry promote a sustainable work/life balance and may include such activities as exercise, arts, and contact with family and friends.
Teaching our educators this skill enables them to introduce adapted reflective models to our students and can guide them through the steps of reflection by using journals or diaries.
Recommendations include using reflective models designed for our students and using reflective journals as a formative task allowing feedback to be provided in preparation for summative assessments. Clare also recommends using reflective practices within our Vet Nursing school to enable educators to become comfortable teaching this to our learners so they can take this learning out into veterinary practice. By teaching our students reflective practices, graduates can take these techniques into the industry knowing how to use them effectively to help them overcome stress and compassion fatigue.