Reflection on a critical incident

Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, Wagga Wagga NSW, Australia.
Contemporary nurse: a journal for the Australian nursing profession (Impact Factor: 0.65). 02/2007; 24(1):89-92. DOI: 10.5555/conu.2007.24.1.89
Source: PubMed


Critical incidents are snapshots of something that happens to a patient, their family or nurse. It may be something positive, or it could be a situation where someone has suffered in some way (Rich & Parker 2001). Reflection and analysis of critical incidents is widely regarded as a valuable learning tool for nurses. The practice requires us to explore our actions and feelings and examine evidence-based literature, thus bridging the gap between theory and practice (Bailey 1995). It also affords us the opportunity of changing our way of thinking or practicing, for when we reflect on an incident we can learn valuable lessons from what did and did not work. In this way we develop self-awareness and skills in critical thinking and problem solving (Rich & Parker 2001). The central aim of the following discussion is to explore and analyse an incident that occurred while attending a clinical placement at a hospital in rural New South Wales. To begin, the incident will be briefly described and the people involved introduced (The names of the people involved have been changed to protect their privacy). A wide range of literature will then be drawn upon in examining how this particular incident reflects specific Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council 'National Competency Standards for the Registered Nurse' (ANMC competencies). The outcome and implications for the writers' nursing practice will complete this reflection.

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    ABSTRACT: This narrative study describes the substance of nursing students' learning in the area of mental health and their responses to the challenges of working in the psychiatric field. The data consisted of 39 critical incidents written by 20 Finnish second-year nursing students during their 5-week mental health placement. The narrative analysis method was used in the data analysis and the configuration of three consistent learning storylines: self-awareness and self-esteem, the nurse-patient relationship and mental health care methods. The three storylines characterized the essence of the students' learning and their responses to the challenges of the psychiatric field during the placement. The students were actively exposed to complicated care situations and patient encounters in which they had to face their own emotions and test coping skills. It seems that the critical incident technique stimulated students' narrative skills and possibly sensitized them for listening at the stories of their future patients.
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