Nurses and midwives in all settings and at all levels need protected time to reflect on their practice and process the emotional impact of their work, nursing leaders have urged.
The demand comes in a new position statement published by four leading health and care organisations on “the importance of regular, protected time for reflective practice in nursing and midwifery”.
Nurses are required to show evidence of reflective practice in order to revalidate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
Regulators describe reflection as the “thought process where individuals consider their experiences to gain insights about their whole practice”, which helps professionals “build resilience, improve wellbeing and deepen professional commitment”.
Despite such regulatory support, the position statement from Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF), Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, Foundation of Nursing Studies (FoNS) and The Point of Care Foundation warned that nurses and midwives still faced “challenges” in securing time during their working hours to attend reflective discussions.
“All too often, nurses and midwives accept that they will need to access this type of learning and support in their own time if they are to guarantee their ability to attend,” it said.
“This results from chronically excessive workloads across settings and sectors, exacerbated by the unprecedented system pressure that is currently affecting all professional groups.”
Those behind the statement said they were now urging workforce leaders to “act urgently to protect time for nurses and midwives to engage in reflective practice”.
They recognised that their call to action would “require investment and a concerted whole-system effort”.
The statement sets out the “rationale” for why prioritisation of reflective practice is needed, stating that it is “critical for safe practice and professional development”.
It said providing nurses and midwives with a “psychologically safe space” to reflect could help curb the “increasing” numbers of staff who are expressing their intention to leave the profession.
Professor Gemma Stacey, director of the FNF Academy, told Nursing Times: “We are not underestimating the complexity of embedding reflective practice and making it the norm for nurses and midwives.
“We hope our statement of support will offer an impetus for protected time for reflection to become high on the agenda when considering the current and future workforce.”
Joanne Bosanquet, chief executive of FoNS, said reflection was “key to person-centred practice and key for our profession to respond to the needs of our population”.
Meanwhile, Clare Cable, chief executive of QNI Scotland, added: “If we are serious about compassionate leadership, we need to prioritise time for staff to listen to themselves and others; to reflect individually and collectively on the values that define us as professionals.”
One way nurses can engage in reflection is through clinical supervision, which enables staff to sit down with a registered professional and discuss their experiences in practice without being appraised or judged.
The statement has been released as part of the work of the FNF Clinical Supervision Subject Expert Group, which is seeking to address the current variation in access to high-quality clinical supervision among nurses and nursing students across the UK.
Campaigning from the expert group recently led to the NMC sending a letter to universities clarifying that student nurses should be accessing clinical supervision during their studies and that this can count towards the 2,300 hours of practice learning they are required to complete in order to register.Uncategorised