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Eight ways to improve your reflection

Written reflections are a requirement of revalidation. Follow our tips on how to best prepare yours.

In order to revalidate, you are required to record a minimum of five written reflections. These reflections can be based on your continuing professional development (CPD) and / or a practice-related event or feedback.

Whichever combination you choose, you must reflect on something that happened in the three years prior to your revalidation date.

Any reflective account should explain what you learnt; how you changed or improved your practise as a result; and how this is relevant to the NMC Code.

1. Get into the habit of reflecting on your work

  • The sooner you reflect on your activity, the more truthful to the event your recollection will be, so make it part of your regular routine.
  • If you don’t have time to write notes, try recording your reflections on your phone while it’s still fresh in your mind, and transcribe them later.

2. Think about when you avoid reflection

  • You may be reluctant to write down your feelings or struggle to articulate your experiences at work. Find a way that works for you.
  • If you like verbalising - record your reflections on your phone. If you prefer talking to someone – seek their permission and record the conversation.
  • If you like drawing – use word clouds or illustrations, and if you need structure - use one of these frameworks on the RCN website.

3. Identify what you are good at

Remember, reflection is about making changes to enhance your practice, so identify a combination of events: some that were positive and some that challenged you. This will help you to make improvements in the future.

4. Structure your learning across three years

  • You must reflect on an event, CPD or feedback you received in the three years prior to your revalidation date. Avoid leaving it to the last minute and instead try to plan your learning across this period.
  • Regularly review your learning opportunities, perhaps during your annual appraisal – this will help you to identify any additional support you might need. Look out for opportunities to get feedback and events that happen in your practise that would be useful to reflect on.

5. Make the most of learning events

  • CPD events take place across the UK throughout the year, and many of these are free.
  • For RCN members worried about the cost of completing this requirement, the RCN hosts numerous free and discounted courses, and there are opportunities to learn online too. 

6. Keep your portfolio up-to-date

  • You may already have a portfolio which records your reflections or information about the training you have completed. If not, start collecting and storing your evidence now and make sure it’s saved in a safe place. This could be paper-based or in a folder on your PC, laptop or tablet (if saved electronically, remember to save a backup copy). 
  • Find regular time, at least once a month, to organise your portfolio. Set up a reminder in your phone, calendar, or include it as a regular topic in team meetings.
  • The RCN has information to help you store evidence, see: Building and keeping a revalidation portfolio.

7. Familiarise yourself with the Code

  •  You will be reflecting against the Code, so it’s important you are familiar with its contents. Why not keep a copy in your portfolio, on your desk or in your work bag?

8. Show what you have learnt

Not all change happens overnight – some of the areas of development you identify might need further work – this is fine. What matters is that you are able to demonstrate evidence of recognising the impact of the Code.

Further information

Revalidation video: How to reflect

10 ways to prepare

What you can do to help ensure your revalidation goes smoothly.


Advice to help you through each of the revalidation requirements.