Reflection is a cognitive process in which new information and experiences are integrated into existing knowledge structures and mental models, resulting in meaningful learning. Reflection often occurs after an experience is over, promoting professional development and lifelong learning. However, a reflective emergency physician (EP) is also able to apply reflection in real time: self-monitoring, coping with the unexpected, and quickly thinking on his or her feet to solve complicated, unique, and challenging clinical problems. Reflection is a skill that can be taught and developed in medical education. Evidence demonstrating the value of teaching reflection is emerging that substantiates longstanding educational theories. While a few educators have started to explore the use of reflection for emergency medicine (EM) learners, the potential for broader application exists. This review summarizes the literature regarding reflection in medical education and provides a basic primer for teaching reflection.
© 2012 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.