Keeping a reflective learning portfolio

You must maintain a reflective learning portfolio of your patient encounters throughout your time on the Scheme. This will support you to get the most from your clinical experience, particularly as models of optometric practice change due to the impact of COVID-19.

What is reflective learning?

Reflective learning involves taking an active and structured approach toward your professional development. Engaging in reflective learning means thinking critically about how your new knowledge, skills and understanding are developed through your experience as a pre-registration trainee. It means developing the ability to:

•    demonstrate self-awareness
•    understand your strengths and weaknesses
•    understand how you learn
•    learn from your mistakes
•    think about, plan and record your learning
•    take responsibility for your own development
•    present your learning and development to others. 

Keeping a reflective learning portfolio will help you to develop the ability to learn and practise independently, and to take responsibility for your professional decisions and actions. It will also prepare you for future professional development requirements and opportunities, once you have qualified.

Why do trainees need to keep a reflective learning portfolio?

A structured approach to reflective learning will help trainees to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours to learn and practise independently, and to take responsibility and be accountable for their professional decisions and actions. It is an important part of preparing to be an optometrist, and we therefore require all trainees to engage in structured reflection from the beginning of the pre-registration period.

The GOC is planning to introduce new continuing professional development requirements for registrants, and from 2022 we expect that optometrists will need to demonstrate engagement in reflective learning to meet regulatory CPD requirements. Keeping a reflective learning portfolio will help trainees to prepare for these longer-term changes.

How to keep your reflective learning portfolio

You must reflect on what you learnt from patient encounters. Once a month, you must select at least one patient encounter and complete the reflective learning template below.

Once every three months, you must also use the template to engage in a reflection on a broader theme, for example, relating to the units of competency, or elements of competence. 

Whether you print your portfolio, or save a digital version, it is important that your supervisor and assessor can access it when needed. It will provide a starting point for discussions, and will allow you to recognise your achievements and identify areas for development.

You can also keep track of your portfolio using the reflective portfolio tab in your logbook.

How to choose patient encounters for reflection

Identify patient encounters where you feel you learned or experienced something new. This could be an encounter where you did something particularly well, or one that helped you identify areas where you need to develop knowledge, understanding or confidence.

You might find it helpful to make rough notes immediately after an encounter, and return to them for reflection later.