USU Reflective Practice Curriculum

RP 101 – Pre-Clinical/Pre-Clerkship

At the beginning of one’s career in healthcare, it can be challenging to realize and accept that healthcare providers routinely have affective reactions to patients and patient care experiences. Given the fact that any attempt to “mute” or “turn off” one’s reactions will be fraught with failure, the best approach is to learn to identify our reactions, understand their sources (our personal context), and work to enhance their positive and mitigate their negative implications.

Click here for lesson

One of the central concepts to our approach to teaching reflective practice is “personal context”- defined as the interwoven fabric of one’s unique and diverse life experiences and from which stem one’s perspective and reactions.  As a consequence of the fact that we continue to accrue new experiences throughout our lives, our personal context is dynamic and ever-evolving, something that may be most apparent when we are moving through a liminal state. With this in mind, this session offers the opportunity to pause and consider our current reactions to clinical encounters and consider how these reactions differ from how we reacted/believe we would have reacted prior to our embarking on the path towards being a licensed independent provider

Nearly 50% of all adults in the United States have at least one chronic illness while nearly 20% of all people in the United States have a disability. Consequently, each of us will commonly encounter patients, friends, and family members who live with chronic illness and/or disability.  Our reactions to these patient care experiences, borne out of our personal context, can have a significant impact on our ability to deliver care, both for the positive and the negative.

Throughout our lives, there are a number of ways that we experience loss. In our roles as healthcare providers, one of these is when our patients die. While we encounter such situations more often than others, the significance of these experiences and their potential impact on our lives and our practice of healthcare is no less profound. Consequently, pausing to consider our own reactions to death and dying, the sources of those reactions, and the way these reactions have and may continue to impact the care we deliver is worthy of examination.

Click here for lesson

As healthcare providers, one certainty is the fact that we will encounter a great deal of uncertainty throughout our careers. Coping with uncertainty can be disquieting, especially in “high stakes” situations in which the diagnoses we make and treatment plans we develop can have a profound impact on the health of our patients. With this in mind, this session affords us the opportunity to consider our reactions to uncertain situations, including the impact of such uncertainty on diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

Click here for lesson

Despite efforts on multiple fronts, treatment strategies to help people maintain a “healthy” BMI and decrease their risk for comorbid illnesses have been largely unsuccessful and in some cases, counter-productive.   While obesity is known to be a complicated, multifactorial disease, this recognition has not translated into a generally compassionate view of those who are obese.  In fact, lay people and medical personnel alike often demonstrate in their words and deeds a strong bias against those who are obese, affecting the way they interact with, diagnose, and treat patients who are obese.  With this in mind, this session offers us the opportunity to explore our own assumptions and biases against those who are obese and consider how these might impact the care we offer our patients.

Click here for lesson

Regardless of age, gender, sexual preference, or sexual identity, one’s sexuality is inherently tied in to one’s sense of well-being. As such, addressing sexuality (perhaps best defined as the sexual habits and desires of an individual) with our patients is an essential component of providing them comprehensive, compassionate, high-quality care. Despite this reality, sexuality is a topic often avoided by physicians. While some physicians report that they believe their patients don’t want to discuss the topic, the reality is that it is just as often (if not more often) that physicians are the ones who avoid the topic. As such, it is essential that we consider our own reactions to discussing sexuality and examine the way these reactions might impact the way we care for our patients.

Click here for session

We have often heard the phrase “everyone makes mistakes”. While this is readily accepted as fact in many fields of work, it is much less readily accepted by healthcare professionals, perhaps due to the fact that mistakes in healthcare can have profound consequences. In addition, it is important to recognize that we often have strong reactions to mistakes, regardless of whether or not they result in a “bad outcome”. Feelings of guilt and shame often pervade these experiences, influencing us in myriad ways, all of which can impact the way we treat our patients.