Bond et al (1985) suggested / stated that reflection in the context of learning is a generic for those intellectual and effective activities in which individuals engage to explore their experiences in order to lead to a new understanding and experience. The author is going to use The Gibbs Reflective Cycle to help her in the process of reflection, as reflection can be a difficult experience without the guidance and support of an expert.
Description of Incident I was allocated in a day-surgery unit to do an orthopaedic minor list. When I got there, I found out that that I was just me and a qualified nurse who were new to the theatre. We did not know the procedure and also where things were kept. I phoned the senior nurse and explained the situation to her. She told me to just get on with the list as there was no-one else whom she could send at that time. Few people had gone off sick that morning. I told the sister-in-charge that I was not at all happy with the situation. After that, I and a staff nurse started the list but there was a significant delay as we had problems allocating the equipment.
Feelings I felt angry, disappointed, and helpless, as I felt that I was not getting enough support from the theatre manager. I was also equally shocked to see that the management did not look at the skill mix when they were carrying out the allocation; this, followed by the disbelief that they allowed all this to happen and had the audacity to tell us to get on with it. I had to rely on a colleague who herself was completely new to the area. It was just like a blind leading a blind.
Evaluation The negative side of the whole experience was that I was put into a situation where I was working under stress, all due to the fact that me and my colleague were not familiar to the place at all where we were working. We were also putting patients’ lives at risk because if the surgeon wanted something urgently, which is not uncommon in theatres, we were completely incapable of giving him that in time.
As a registered nurse, I and my colleague are personally accountable for our practice, and by the virtue of code of Professional Conduct, we have acted to minimise risk to patients and clients as it is our duty to care for them and ensure that they receive safe and competent care (UKCC 1992). Under the circumstances that we were put into, we could not change the whole situation, and instead negotiated with the surgeon about the things that he was going to use, so that we would be ready with all the necessary things before the patient was put to sleep. I felt happy and content with myself because I brought the situation under control. Overall, this was a positive experience that made me learn to adapt to the circumstances around me and also learn by working in a new environment.
To analyse this incident, I have referred to the Dreyfus model suggested by Benner P., in the acquisition and development of skills, which suggests that we can be both a novice and an experienced person at the same time within a situation (Benner 1982). On reflection, this is a situation I found myself in being a novice in a new theatre and environment, but at the same time, an experienced practitioner in my own right.
I could have demanded more help from the manager, but that would have been pointless as there was an acute shortage of staff. However, my motivation towards learning proved to be beneficial to me, as I had to get the list done. If I am pulled into a similar situation after this, I would be better prepared by negotiating first with the surgeon and not sending the patient, getting everything I need and also filling an incident form for high shortage of staff.
I have found that by actually using reflection on an aspect of my experience, it has helped me to appreciate how I can practically use this form of knowledge in my daily life. It has also helped me to understand difficult situations better, to alleviate anxieties and share problems with my colleagues.