What relevance does reflection have to surgical training or practice?

Reflection is considered to be an integral part of being a professional of any kind, and is a vital way of learning from surgical experiences.  If you are unable to critical analyse what you do and improve your practice as a result, you are not safe to practice independently

Is it mandatory?

You will find it increasingly difficult to meet requirements to practice: CCT or revalidation, if you are unable to demonstrate an ability to integrate reflection into your practice.

Isn’t reflection more appropriate for physicians?

Some surgical specialties profess to focus more on technical skills than the more abstract judgements required by physicians.  However, Dr. Frank Spencer in 1978, said “A skillfully performed operation is about 75% decision making and 25% dexterity”. Skilled decision-making is underpinned by sophisticated reflection

Why have we got to write it down?

You don’t have to write it down.  You could video or audio record your reflections, as long as your supervisor can access and provide feedback easily, and documentation is available in a portfolio.  If you stop after reflecting and omit a written record, you sacrifice the opportunity to demonstrate: your ability to reflect, along with other non technical skills you will be required to show evidence of.

Could my reflections find their way into the public domain?

It’s possible, so it is important to anonymise any writing.  You may consider keeping some sensitive events for your eyes only.  They can still be stored in your portfolio but only you or whoever has your permission, can see it.  Take care to remove any patient, colleague or institution identifiers.

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