Reflection Improves Work Life and Practice Effectiveness

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Continuing with similar themes posed by recent Management Tips, this week’s Tip centers on reflection, and reflective practice. Reflection is one of the primary ways in which we grow as a person. In view of the previous Tips on self-identity and professional identity, reflection is a key strategy to facilitate these and other aspects of development. Every day in practice, pharmacists not only face moral dilemmas as previously discussed, they interact with patients, health plans, peer pharmacists, technicians, other health providers, supervisors, and others. There is little doubt that some interactions and situations are handled with aplomb, while others leave considerable room for improvement. It’s always said that we learn from our mistakes. That is not entirely true, unless we stop to reflect on those mistakes, or even those occasions where there was not a mistake, per se, but simply something that could have been handled better.

Le et al described the practice and benefits of reflective practice.1 They assert the need for compassionate behaviors not only toward patients but also toward other people with whom we work. They point out that reflection helps pharmacists better understand the perspectives of others. Doing so will facilitate those compassionate behaviors and also make one’s work life that much easier in the end. Reflection also helps one to understand one’s own coping mechanisms and direct energy toward improving those coping mechanisms. This is critically important in light of high work volumes, stressors, and role conflicts mentioned in previous Management Tips. The authors (Le et al) point to very poignant research demonstrating that reflective practice  was associated with various outcomes, even greater analytical reasoning that led to a reduction in errors. Reflection has not yet been studied extensively in pharmacy practice, but evidence suggests its use to be highly important for pharmacy students in their learning. This is quite evident when examining the most recent accreditation standards for pharmacy schools, as reflection is a key component of the learning processes required in both the didactic and experiential components of the curriculum.

Pharmacists not only should reflect but even learn HOW to reflect. There are many widely available toolkits and readings on the Internet to help guide reflection. Pharmacy managers can encourage reflective practice by promoting self-development, instilling a reflective culture, and perhaps most importantly by role modeling reflective practice and effective coping mechanisms, themselves.

Additional information about Organizational Structure and Management Functions and Leadership can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing. 

1Montzourani E, Desselle SP, Le J, Lonie JM, Lucas C. The role of reflective practice strategies in healthcare clinical enviornments and implications for pharmacy practice. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2019;15(12):1476-1479.  


Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

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Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
about 1 month ago

Do you really stop and think DEEPLY how you can be a better pharmacist?