How to Write a Reflective Account?

How to Write a Reflective Account?

Definition of ‘Reflect’: To think, meditate, or ponder'.

As part of your revalidation application, you will be required to provide five reflective accounts and complete one reflective discussion. Reflective account requests made by your placement or agency may require you to write an account following an incident or complaint.

Why do I need to evidence my reflective account?

The reflective requirement of the process encourages you as a nurse (or midwife) to reflect on your practice so that it is easier to identify changes or improvements on your practice or on what you have learnt. You will also need to evidence that you have thought about how this relates to the Code and document this as part of your reflective account.

What can I produce a reflective account on?

As long as it relates to your practice as a nurse, you can reflect on it. Here are some examples of what you can use:

  • Training (CPD)
  • An event or experience in practice
  • Any feedback you have received (verbal, written, formal or informal) about yourself or your team

It is important to omit any details that may easily identify an individual, service user or patient, especially if the event is unusual. It is also recommended that you don’t use exact dates. Instead, simply refer to the month and the year (e.g. January 2019).

How to write a reflective account?

The good news is that there are many ways to create a reflective account. It can be produced online or in handwritten form.

Here are the recommended steps to take when writing a reflective account:

  • 'Title’ – make it easily recognisable and descriptive
  • ‘Date’ – as previously stated, if it could identify a patient, refer only to the month and the year
  • ‘What was the nature of the CPD activity/practice-related feedback?’ – This is where you set the scene by explaining what happened or what you attended
  • ‘What did you learn from the CPD activity and/or feedback?’ – After you attended the CPD or following the event, describe what you feel you learnt from the experience
  • ‘How did you change or improve your work as a result?’ - Try to keep your response free of emotion. State what could be done to avoid or improve similar situations in the future. Remember, it does not have to be a criticism; it could be positive.
  • 'How is this relevant to the Code?' - Explain how your experience relates to the Code. Prioritise people, practice effectively, preserve safety, promote professionalism and trust. This doesn’t need to be an essay. Your reflective account could relate to all four or just the one, but it’s important to explain how. 

Reflective account examples

Here are some examples of statements that could be used depending on the situation:

Recognising that you could improve:

“To avoid similar situations, I will ensure that I always double-check the drug administration documentation before I issue the prescription to the patient.”

Observing a positive action of your own:

“In this situation, I believe that I followed the nursing Code and correctly administrated the right prescription drug. I will continue to practice at this standard.”

When an event occurred through no wrongdoing of your own:

“I recognise that I could not have foreseen the outcome of this situation. All documentation and practice were correctly administered to the patient, however, the situation had a huge impact on me emotionally, therefore, I will look to find another NMC registered nurse who I can talk to about my feelings should events like this ever occur in the future.”

The next step

Before you submit your revalidation application, you will need to have a reflective discussion with another NMC registered nurse regarding your accounts. Once they are happy that you have correctly recorded and reflected your five pieces, they will sign a copy of the mandatory Reflective Discussion NMC form.

It’s important to note that you will not need to submit your reflective accounts as part of your revalidation application. You should, however, keep a record for future reference or in case you are included as part of the NMC random sample and asked to provide evidence.

Learn more about revalidation in our dedicated revalidation resource section.