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Background: Reflective practice is essential for professional development of residents. Though earlier research has tried to explore the interventions to build and improve the reflective aptitude and skills of undergraduate students, there appears to be dearth of research pertaining to the understanding of reflection in the post graduate training programs.
Methods: A qualitative study based on phenomenological approach and epistemological stance was used to generate views of residents on the research questions. A semi-structured interview pattern was used to get a detailed perspective of the 10 plastic surgery residents about the research questions. The interviews were written down accurately word for word. The author searched for key words and phrases. The data were then analyzed using an analytical process which involved a number of interconnected stages to classify and organize data according to key themes and subthemes.
Results: Five main themes emerged following data analysis: reflective practice-difficult to perceive, personal development, reflective practice for learning and patient care and reflective conversation. Participants had diversity of thoughts on the concept of reflective practice but they had similar understanding of applications of reflective practice including role in self development, patient care and individual and collaborative learning; and improvement in practice and surgical skills. The participants did not limit the reflective conversation to self but considered ‘conversation with others’ as important component of reflection. Participants narrated that when they had to reflect upon situations related to patient care, interpersonal relations and learning sessions, the conversations held with their colleagues formed an important part of their decision for future course of events
Conclusions: The concept of reflective practice, though, is difficult to perceive but it is essential for professional development of residents. The findings also suggest that in communities of practice, reflecting together and sharing experiences with others is the new face of reflection. In order to serve the complex needs of today’s communities of practice, ingenious and practical ways of thinking are required for productivity of reflective practice.
Keywords: Reflective practice, Professional development, Self reflection, Collective reflection, Communities of practice